Ex-cop gets 20 years in prison for fatal shooting

Walter Scott shooting witness Feidin Santana, who took the video of the shooting arrives at the Charleston federal court house on the 4th day of testimony during the sentencing hearing for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager in Char

Walter Scott shooting witness Feidin Santana, who took the video of the shooting arrives at the Charleston federal court house on the 4th day of testimony during the sentencing hearing for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager in Char

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A white former SC police officer committed second-degree murder when he shot an unarmed black motorist to death and should expect to spend about two decades in prison, a judge said Thursday as he prepared to sentence the ex-officer for a federal civil rights violation.

A former SC police officer will spend 20 years in prison for shooting and killing an unarmed man in North Charleston, a case that drew worldwide attention and sparked a debate about the use of force by law enforcement. He said that Slager and Scott had physically struggled before the shooting, and that explained the officer's state of mind.

What it did capture, though, is Slager repeatedly firing at Mr Scott as he was attempting to run away.

Slager is one of only a few police officers to go to prison for a fatal shooting.

In a wrought courtroom scene, Scott's mother, Judy, told Slager that she forgives him for her son's killing.

Slager also apologised to the Scott family for his actions.

Newsweek reports prior to Thursday, the 2009 convictions of three cops marked the most recent instance in which the justice system held cops accountable for killing an unarmed Black person.

"I'm not angry at you, Michael".

Scott, who was wanted for unpaid child support, was filmed by a police dashcam breaking free from Slager's grasp and running directly away from him.

"I pray for you that you will repent and let Jesus come in your life because God loves us all", she added.

A state murder trial ended last December with a hung jury, and state prosecutors dropped the murder case in exchange for the plea on the federal charge.

Through tears, the mother spoke as part of a hearing during which a judge will decide how much time Slager spends in prison for the April 2015 killing following a traffic stop.

The officer, who was sacked after the shooting, "acted out of malice aforethought, shooting dead an unarmed and fleeing Walter Scott", Judge David Norton said Thursday.

In court on Thursday, members of Scott's family offered forgiveness to Slager but said their pain had not diminished.

The shooting was captured on a bystander's cellphone and shared around the world, setting off Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S.as demonstrators said it was another egregious example of police officers' mistreatment of African-Americans.

Scott's brother, Anthony Scott, said it was tougher for him.

Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott's civil rights.

"If you met him, you would like him", she said.

Norton also said Slager obstructed justice when he made statements to state police after the shooting.

Slager's defense team brought in experts in audio and video to try to prove that a ground fight took place between Slager and Scott.

Slager, looking haggard in a gray-and-white prison jumpsuit with his wrists shackled to his waist, gave his own testimony. Dashcam video shows that after a short conversation, Scott ran away from the auto and that after a foot chase, Slager fired eight shots, killing Scott.

On Thursday, attorneys are expected to call friends and relatives of both men who'll tell the judge how Scott's death and the officer's arrest have affected their lives.

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