Michael Slager, the police officer in South Carolina who murdered 50-year-old Walter Scott by shooting him in the back in 2015 was sentenced to twenty years in prison on Thursday—a rare case in which video evidence taken by a bystander led to an officer being held to account for taking the life of an unarmed black man.
Even though the sentence was not as long as prosecutors—and many in the public—had called or hoped for, the murder conviction was significant because it acknowledged that Slager “willfully used unreasonable force when he shot Walter Scott, even though Scott was unarmed and posed no threat.”
Though Slager’s original trial ended in “mistrial,” his ultimate conviction of second-degree murder and Thursday’s sentencing came as a result of a plea agreement between prosecutors and his defense attorneys. As he handed down the sentence, U.S. District Judge David Norton said Slager “acted out of malice and and forethought, shooting dead an unarmed and fleeing Walter Scott.”
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