After pleading guilty in May to a federal civil rights offense in the death of Walter Scott, former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder and obstruction of justice, The Post and Courier reports. In April 2015, Slager fatally shot the unarmed Scott as he fled a routine traffic stop.
Three days after the shooting, a witness posted a video online of Slager shooting Scott multiple times in the back as Scott ran away. The footage of Scott's death sparked protests and demonstrations in South Carolina and across the country, and Slager was arrested on a murder charge shortly after the clip went viral.
Scott's youngest son had asked U.S. District Judge David Norton to sentence Slager to life in prison, but Norton instead opted to sentence Slager on charges of second-degree murder, which holds a possible sentence of 19 to 24 years, instead of life in prison for voluntary manslaughter. Norton issued the final sentence of 20 years behind bars.
Last December, a state murder trial for Slager ended in a mistrial; those charges were later dropped after Slager pleaded guilty to the federal charge of violating Scott's civil rights. Anthony Scott, the older brother of the deceased Scott, told reporters that he had accepted Norton's decision. "At the end of the day, there's another judge [Slager] has to face." Kelly O'Meara Morales