In 2015, Officer Slager pulled over Walter Scott due to a broken brake late — a routine traffic stop to say the least.
50-year-old Scott ran away, prompting Slager to chase him. After the two became entangled and scuffled, Slager fired on Scott as he was attempting to flee again; hitting him 5 times in the back.
The North Charleston Police Department fired Slager after the footage surfaced publicly.
Michael Slager plead guilty to the charges of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice earlier this year. Now, the sentencing has been given.
“I hope that the entire nation understands how big this is and what this means for everybody. … This is all people crave: accountability,” Chris Stewart, a lawyer for the family, said. “If the death of Walter Scott … can make the next officer think one second longer before pulling that trigger and changing an entire nation, then it was all worth it.”
As reported by NPR:
In a wrought courtroom scene, Scott’s mother, Judy, told Slager that she forgives him for her son’s killing. As South Carolina Public Radio’s Victoria Hansen reports, Slager turned to her and silently mouthed, “I’m sorry.”
“I know,” Scott replied.
Slager’s path through the courts has been convoluted. A state murder trial ended in a hung jury in December. State prosecutors were set to retry him earlier this year, but as part of a plea agreement, Slager pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation for using excessive force and South Carolina agreed to drop the murder charge.
The Post and Courier explains how Norton treated that guilty plea in his sentencing on Thursday:
“Norton had two options for the underlying offense that could affect Slager’s penalty: voluntary manslaughter or second-degree murder. Prosecutors have supported the murder finding, which would expose Slager to up to life in prison. But defense attorneys said Slager was provoked into firing, making his actions voluntary manslaughter.”
Slager had claimed that Scott had wrested his stun gun from him, and that he fired his gun in self-defense. But Norton did not buy that defense.