A white former South Carolina police officer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for shooting an unarmed black motorist to death in 2015.
A federal judge handed down the sentence for Michael Slager on Thursday. Slager pleaded guilty to violating Walter Scott’s civil rights by unjustly shooting him in the back five times as he was running away from a traffic stop.
A federal judge ruled that Slager committed second-degree murder. The ruling came as part of federal sentencing proceedings.
In arguing for a lighter sentence, Slager’s attorneys told the judge that the former North Charleston officer and Scott fought on the ground and Scott reached for his stun gun during the struggle.
A bystander’s cellphone video didn’t capture the struggle but did show Slager firing into Scott as he was running away.
During tearful statements in court, several members of Scott’s family said they forgave the officer and were praying for him.
Scott’s mother, Judy, turned toward Michael Slager and said her faith in God gives her the ability to forgive him for killing her son.
She also told Slager she hoped he would repent for the killing and allow Jesus to come into his heart.