Published: Fri, December 08, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Judge: Ex-cop committed murder in shooting death of motorist in 2015

Judge: Ex-cop committed murder in shooting death of motorist in 2015

Slager shot and killed Scott on April 4, 2015, while Slager was an officer with the North Charleston Police Department. "Slager's actions were disproportional to Scott's misconduct".

In the dashcam video, Slager is asking Scott questions about insurance and vehicle ownership. Witness video that surfaced shortly after the encounter appeared to show the moment Slager fatally shot Scott as he ran away.

Relatives of the victim said Thursday they forgave Slager, despite their grief.

A white former SC policeman caught on video shooting an unarmed black man in the back was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday in a federal civil rights case connected to the 2015 killing. Scott's sister-in-law and brother also addressed the court.

The executive director of the SC chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, Shaundra Scott, said her organization and others were working with police in the wake of the Scott case to ensure officer accountability.

The video quickly ricocheted around the internet and on news stations, and Slager was arrested and fired from his police force.

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A bystander's cellphone video didn't capture the struggle but did show Slager firing into Scott as he was running away.

"No matter what sentence I give, neither the Scott family nor the Slager family is going to think that it's right", the judge said. He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced by a judge, perhaps as soon as this week.

"This is a tragedy that shouldn't have happened", U.S. District Judge David Norton said.

Slager fired at Scott's back from 17 feet (5 meters) away.

Michael Slager, who worked for the North Charleston police department, was charged with murder in state courts, proceedings that ended in a mistrial past year.

During final statements Wednesday sentencing, Jared Fishman, one of the prosecutors in the case, admitted that Scott did not obey commands during the stop-including running from the officer after he was pulled over-but that doesn't justify what happened.

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"Norton had two options for the underlying offense that could affect Slager's penalty: voluntary manslaughter or second-degree murder". Prosecutors think he put it there to bolster his self-defense story.

Under the terms of the plea agreement announced in May, Slager pleaded guilty to one count of violating Scott's rights under color of law, and prosecutors said they would push for a judge to apply sentencing guidelines for second-degree murder and obstruction of justice. But the judge was not bound by that review.

Officers are rarely charged for deadly on-duty shootings, though that number has increased in recent years amid intense scrutiny and protests that have broken out across the country.

Slager pleaded not guilty in the case, and his attorney said at trial past year that his client shot Scott because he feared for his life.

SC has been aggressive in charging white officers who shoot unarmed black people. But only Slager and former state trooper Sean Groubert, who shot a man as he tried to get his wallet during a seat belt violation check, will have been sent to prison.

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