Judge weighs 2 decades in prison for ex-cop's fatal shooting

Judge weighs 2 decades in prison for ex-cop's fatal shooting

A federal judge said Thursday that the "appropriate underlying offense" for the former SC police officer who killed unarmed black man Walter Scott is second-degree murder and suggested a sentence of 19 to 24 years in prison.

Slager, 36, who is white, earlier pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights offense against Scott.

"The defendant willfully used deadly force even though it was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances", the plea agreement stated.

During the trial last November, the judge did not allow the captions to be seen by jurors, because the sound was not able to be heard without special equipment.

Former police officer Michael Slager, seen during his state murder trial a year ago in Charleston, S.C., which ended in a hung jury.

Slager, a former North Charleston cop, shot and killed Scott on April 4, 2015. After the father of four ran from the traffic stop, Slager shot him from behind eight times, hitting him five times.

Defending Slager, lawyer Andy Savage said: 'There's nothing in Michael Slager's background, from birth to today, of any racial animus or any harassment of minority members of the community'. Federal sentencing officials have recommended between 10 to almost 13 years in prison. "Michael, I forgive you, and Michael, I do pray for you now and for your family, because we've gone through a traumatic time", he said.

A federal judge handed down the sentence for Michael Slager on Thursday. At issue was Slager's state of mind and the facts of the physical altercation that preceded the shooting-including whether Scott had handled Slager's Taser and what was said between the men.

"No matter what sentence I give, neither the Scott family nor the Slager family is going to think that it's right", the judge said.

This week's sentencing hearings are a chance for Judge Norton to decide the basis for Slager's punishment: second-degree murder, as the federal prosecution is arguing, or manslaughter, as posited by the defense.

But there were no complaints from the Scotts about the findings from the judge, who also determined that Slager had made false and misleading statements. Slager contends he was securing the weapon.

The 2015 killing of Scott kickstarted efforts to reform local police practices.

Scott's older brother, Anthony, told the court he'd become depressed after the shooting and that he was probably the last in his family to be able to forgive Slager.

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