Ex-cop gets 20 years in prison for fatal shooting

Former cop who shot unarmed black man gets 20 years in prison

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A white former SC police officer committed second-degree murder when he shot an unarmed black motorist to death and should expect to spend about two decades in prison, a judge said Thursday as he prepared to sentence the ex-officer for a federal civil rights violation.

Former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for the deadly shooting of unarmed black man Walter Scott.

Attorneys for Slager said he shot the 50-year-old Scott in self-defense after the two fought and Scott reached for Slager's stun gun. However, cell phone video recorded by bystander Feiden Santana showed Scott turning around to run away as the stun gun landed on the ground behind the officer.

The shooting, which occurred less than a year after the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in Staten Island, New York, sparked a national debate over the violence white police officers use against African-Americans after eyewitness videos of the incidents went viral.

An emotional Slager told the Scott family that he was grateful for their forgiveness.

Newsweek reports prior to Thursday, the 2009 convictions of three cops marked the most recent instance in which the justice system held cops accountable for killing an unarmed Black person. "Michael, I forgive you, and Michael, I do pray for you now and for your family, because we've gone through a traumatic time", he said.

Slager and his family also spoke to the judge in an effort to secure a lighter sentence.

She also told Slager she hoped he would repent for the killing and allow Jesus to come into his heart.

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Defense lawyers worked out a plea agreement to settle all of the charges Slager faced in state and federal court.

Scott's family testified before the sentence was handed down and said they had forgiven Slager. In exchange for the plea, the local prosecutor agreed to drop the murder charge against him.

Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott's civil rights.

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

"I miss my brother, and our family will never be the same", he said.

"I'm not angry at you, Michael". The former North Charleston officer has been in jail since pleading guilty in May to violating Scott's civil rights, and Norton is tasked with deciding how much time he spends in prison.

Slager, looking haggard in a gray-and-white prison jumpsuit with his wrists shackled to his waist, gave his own testimony. Slager raised his pistol, pointed it at Scott's back, and fired eight shots.

In April 2015, Time magazine put Scott and Slager on its cover under the headline "Black Lives Matter".

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