Former cop sentenced to 20 years for fatally shooting unarmed black man

Criminal Justice

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A federal judge in Charleston, South Carolina, has sentenced a white former police officer to 20 years in prison after his guilty plea to a federal civil-rights charge for shooting an unarmed black man who was running from him.

Michael Slager had admitted to using excessive force against Walter Scott in a May plea agreement that resolved federal and state charges. U.S. District Judge David Norton sentenced Slager on Thursday, report the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, USA Today and the Post and Courier.

“Although the sentence fell short of what prosecutors had sought,” the Times reported, “the fact that Mr. Slager was convicted of any crime at all in the case made it a milestone in the national debate about police conduct. Other killings by police officers, from Baltimore to Charlotte, (North Carolina), and Ferguson, (Missouri), have prompted protests and some changes in police practice, but have not led to convictions.”

Slager pleaded guilty after jurors in the state murder case were unable to reach a verdict. Norton sentenced Slager after finding that the civil-rights crime to which he pleaded guilty was the underlying offense of second-degree murder rather than voluntary manslaughter.

Scott had run from Slager after the officer pulled him over for a broken taillight. Slager had fired his Taser at Scott, but it didn’t take him down. After a scuffle, Scott began to run again, and Slager shot Scott eight times. Afterward, Slager picked up his Taser and dropped it near Scott’s body. The shooting was captured on video.

Slager said Scott grabbed his Taser during the scuffle and he believed Scott still had the weapon when he fired his gun.



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