Thursday, 14 December, 2017

SC officer sentenced; judge says shooting unarmed motorist was murder

A freeze frame of a cell phone video showing the moments before Michale Slager shot Walter Scott A freeze frame of a cell phone video showing the moments before Michale Slager shot Walter Scott
Sammy Stanley | 08 December, 2017, 02:11

A federal judge Thursday said he would consider the 2015 killing of unarmed Walter Scott by a North Charleston police officer to be a second-degree murder, not the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter. He also testified that he heard Slager say "Let go of my taser before I shoot you".

The video was seized on by many as vivid proof of what they had been arguing for years: that white officers too often use deadly force unnecessarily against black people.

Slager "acted out of malice and and forethought, shooting dead an unarmed and fleeing Walter Scott", US District Judge David Norton said.

A white former SC police officer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting an unarmed black motorist to death in 2015.

Norton will announce Slager's sentence later Thursday.

Former North Charleston police officer Wade Humphries was also called to the stand. He said he shot the 50-year-old Black motorist in self-defense after Scott tried to grab his Taser.

Slager was found guilty in his second trial after it was revealed that he placed his stun gun by Scott's body in an attempt to make it look like there was a struggle, and made false statements to police about what happened. Prosecutors think it's murder, making Slager eligible for a life sentence. Scott's mother, Judy, turned and spoke directly to Michael Slager.

Slager later thanked the Scott family for their forgiveness.

The men move out of view of the dashcam. In an interview earlier this year, Harris said jurors also tend to give officers "the benefit of the doubt" in most cases.

Walter Scott
Walter Scott

In cellphone video of the shooting, Scott is shown getting about 17 feet (5 meters) from Slager before the officer fires at him eight times.

Imel, an Federal Bureau of Investigation video expert, also took the stand, showcasing how far away Scott was when Slager fired each shot on the cell phone video.

"Shots fired. Suspect down". Morgan said that Slager told him his torn-up uniform led him to believe he had been "Tasered".

The shooting was caught on video by a witness. However, Savage said his client believed that Scott could have been armed based on the fact that he fled from the traffic stop which was initiated by a broken brake light on Scott's vehicle. He was later fired and charged with murder. Slager had testified he was trying to secure the weapon, but the prosecution said Slager embellished his story.

If Slager had faced another state trial and been convicted of murder, he could have been sentenced to anywhere from 30 years to life in prison.

Slager, 36, who is white, earlier pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights offense against Scott.

The case was ultimately heard in federal court after USA attorneys reached a plead deal with Slager earlier this year.

"We shouldn't be deprived of justice because of the sloppiness of the government's investigation", Savage said, calling into question DNA and stun gun examinations done by state police.

The sentencing came after the judge heard from friends and family of Scott, including his brother, Anthony Scott. Last year, Scott's relatives reached a $6.5 million settlement with the city of North Charleston.

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