Former officer gets 20 years in Scott slaying

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The conviction of a former SC cop has finally disrupted the devastating pattern of the unrebuked killings of Black men by police.

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 global attention and sparked a debate about the use of force by law enforcement. Slager alleged the shooting was an act of self-defense.

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

The shooting angered local African-Americans who complained for years that North Charleston police harassed blacks, pulling them over or questioning them unnecessarily as they cracked down on crime.

During the sentencing hearing, Scott's mother told Slager she forgave him.

Slager was swiftly fired and arrested, and the city of North Charleston agreed to a $6.5 million settlement with Scott's family. As South Carolina Public Radio's Victoria Hansen reports, Slager turned to her and silently mouthed, "I'm sorry".

U.S. District Judge David Norton ruled that Slager committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice, when he shot and killed 50-year-old Scott in 2015.

Walter Scott's mother, Judy, holds up a photo of him as she walks to the media tents pitched outside of the courthouse in downtown Charleston. "I forgive you, and Michael, I pray for you now".

A defense attorney says a white former SC law officer should be sentenced on the low end of guidelines being considered by a federal judge. As part of a plea agreement reached in May, prosecutors dropped state murder charges.

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.

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

"I think it must be something else to why they would not release that", Anthony Scott said while walking back to his hotel after the sentencing.

Scott, who was at least 17 feet from Slager when the officer opened fire, fell to the ground.

Scott's father has said his son may have been running from the officer because he owed child support and did not want to go to jail.

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

Slager had claimed that Scott had wrested his stun gun from him, and that he fired his gun in self-defense. God gave forgiveness in my heart for Officer Slager. 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.

In April 2015, Time magazine put Scott and Slager on its cover under the headline "Black Lives Matter".