Walter Scott's Killer Sentenced to Prison in "Historic" Ruling

Michael Slager

Not long after Judy Scott's son was shot and killed by police - days, in fact, after Walter Scott was gunned down by Officer Michael Slager in SC, ending one life, changing others forever and further inflaming a furious debate over policing and race - the grieving mother expressed no anger.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a white former North Charleston police officer to 20 years in prison for the 2015 killing of an unarmed African American man who was running away when shot and killed.

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

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

Slager pulled Scott over for a broken brake light in April 2015, and the 50-year-old Scott ran during the stop.

"What's just for the Scott family is not necessarily just for the Slager family, and what's just for the Slager family is not necessarily just for the Scott family", he said.

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. Before he does that, he will decide whether the shooting was second-degree murder or manslaughter.

ABC News reports that Slager was ruled guilty by U.S. District Judge David Norton, who recommended a 19- to 24-year sentence.

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Yet he pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott's civil rights by using excessive force, a charge that carried a possible lifetime prison sentence.

Morgan said he felt that Slager had an above-average tolerance for stress and didn't diagnose him with any disorder related to memory loss. "I forgive you. Forgiveness is in my heart", the bereaved mother said, according to the Associated Press. "Forgiveness is in my heart there and I pray for you that you would repent and let Jesus come into your life".

Slager's family had a chance to talk too, and his mother said her son didn't shoot Scott in anger or prejudice.

Michael Slager (right) walks from the Charleston courthouse following a mistrial past year.

Slager's emotions stood in stark contrast to his stoic demeanour during his state murder trial when jurors deadlocked over a verdict. But the officer in May pleaded guilty to federal civil rights violations, with prosecutors agreeing to drop state murder charges.

Slager's attorneys have continued to reiterate his self-defence claim, saying race didn't play a role and Slager never had any "racial animus" toward minorities. They were pleased the justice system worked.

SC has been aggressive in charging white officers who shoot unarmed black people.

The case was ultimately heard in federal court after USA attorneys reached a plead deal with Slager earlier this year.

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