Updated Thursday, Dec. 7, 2017, 2:30 p.m. EST: ABC News reports that former South Carolina Police Officer Michael Slager has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting Walter Scott, an unarmed black man, in the back during a routine traffic stop in 2015.
It happened. A (former) cop is finally going to prison over the shooting death of an unarmed black man.
Michael Slager, a former North Charleston, S.C., police officer, has been sentenced to 19-24 years in prison for the 2015 death of Walter Scott, an unarmed black motorist whom Slager shot in the back during a routine traffic stop.
In the ruling delivered today, U.S. District Judge David Norton found that Slager had committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice. Norton’s decision was delivered after Slager pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights offense. As ABC News reports, the guilty plea effectively “end[ed] the federal case against him and also resolv[ed] the state charges that were pending after the mistrial.”
This is the second time Slager has stood trial for Scott’s death. Last year, Slager evaded justice when the former North Charleston cop’s trial ended in a mistrial.
As The Root reported earlier, the 36-year-old Slager could have been dealt a life sentence in addition to a $250,000 fine for using excessive force during the routine traffic stop. While the 19- to 24-year sentence stops well short of that, the very fact of the prison sentence is anomalous: Officers are rarely sent to prison for fatal shootings.
Last week, Slager’s lawyers attempted to use Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ faulty memory to excuse Slager’s erratic, inconsistent and untrue recollection of what happened in the moments leading up to Scott’s death. The ex-cop had lied multiple times about the event, originally claiming that he had shot Scott in self-defense.
Cellphone footage taken by a bystander later revealed that Slager had, in fact, shot Scott in the back as he was fleeing from the cop.
Read more at ABC News.