A bystander’s video showed police officer Michael Slager shooting and killing the fleeing, unarmed Walter Scott.
Walter Scott, a 50-year-old black man, was unarmed, facing away from the police officer, and haphazardly attempting to flee — but that didn’t stop Michael Slager, a white North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer at the time, from firing his gun at least eight times at the fleeing man, killing him.
Earlier this year, Slager pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge related to the shooting, admitting that he did not shoot in self-defense and acknowledging that he knew his use of force was unreasonable. Slager could face up to life in prison when he’s sentenced later this year. Then, on Thursday, Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Previously, in December 2016, more than a year and a half after the April 4, 2015, shooting, a jury failed to reach a verdict in Slager’s trial for killing Scott — leading the judge to declare a mistrial. According to reports, the jury just couldn’t reach the unanimous decision required for a conviction.
The case could have been retried in state court. But after Slager agreed to a plea deal with federal law enforcement, the state case was lumped in with the federal case. The plea deal, however, left a crucial question open: Should Slager’s case be treated as second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter? US District Judge David Norton concluded the shooting was akin to second-degree murder, prompting a harsher sentence — of 20 years — than Slager would have gotten otherwise.
The shooting was recorded on film by a bystander, who turned over the video footage to authorities. The video has been widely credited with leading to charges of murder against Slager and the officer’s firing from the police force. Read More Here