SC officer sentenced; judge says shooting unarmed motorist was murder

Walter Scott's son reads impact statement at sentencing of police officer who killed his father

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A former SC cop has been sentenced to 19 to 24 years in prison for shooting dead an unarmed black motorist. Federal guidelines recommend a sentence of between 19 and 24 years for that offense.

U.S. District Judge David Norton announced his finding about the gravity of the killing of Scott, an African-American who was running away from police officer Michael Slager when Slager fired at him eight times, shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday.

"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", his attorney Andy Savage said, countering assertions that the officer acted violently because Scott was black.

Scott's family members addressed the court after Norton's ruling. Scott's mother, Judy Scott, said through tears that her faith in God gives her the ability to forgive Slager. She then looked directly at him. "My heart is destroyed because the way my father went was rough, and you only get one father, not two". But mainly the family just talked about Walter.

The federal prosecution hammered in the fact that Scott was running away when the first shot was sacked and continued to run away until he fell.

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.

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The defense is arguing that Scott grabbed Slager's stun gun and had an altercation with him on the ground, which can not be clearly seen in the bystander's video. 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.

Norton said the crime was grave and Scott did not warrant being shot. Prosecutors think it's murder, making Slager eligible for a life sentence.

A federal judge ruled that Slager committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice.

The judge also found that Slager, 36, obstructed justice when he made statements to state police after the shooting. "It took me a long time".

The case sparked national attention amid a series of shooting incidents across the country involving white police officers and unarmed black men.

Slager pleaded guilty in May to violation of civil rights by acting under the color of law in Scott's killing.

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