2 years after the police involved shooting and murder of 50 year old Walter Scott and many years of controversy pertaining to police involved shootings, we finally see justice being served.
Former police officer Michael Slager was charged with second degree murder and sentenced today to 20 years in prison for the deadly shooting of Scott. Scott was unarmed. The ruling came with a recommended 19 to 24 year sentence.
Slager’s family spoke to the judge begging for a lighter sentence. Slager’s wife, Jamie Slager, told the judge “He had to make a decision in a split second. I couldn’t imagine having to make a decision that fast.” The judge’s decision came after Slager pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights offense back in May 2017.
On April 4, 2015, Slager was an officer with the North Charleston Police Department. Slager claimed self-defense but a cellphone video of the shooting captured by a witness that surfaced shortly after the murder told otherwise. In the video, you could see Slager fatally shooting Scott in the back as he ran away from him. He was later fired from the force.
Initially, Slager was charged with murder and pleaded not guilty. Slager’s attorney told the court that his client shot Scott because he was “in fear for his life”. In 2016 the case ended in mistrial. The state retrial and federal trial were expected to take place this year before Slager pleaded guilty to violating Scott’s civil rights ending the federal case against him.
“I wish this never would have happened,” Slager spoke out to his family before hearing his sentence in court, “I wish I could go back to the day and change the events, but I can’t.”
After the sentencing, Walter’s brother, Rodney Scott, told reporters that his family is “pleased”. “We got justice,” he said. He said his family is “thankful for the justice system that worked on our behalf,” but added that “a lot of work” still needs to be done in the justice system.
Walter’s brother, Anthony Scott, also spoke out thanking Feiden Santana, the witness who filmed the shooting for being “brave” enough to film what he saw.