Published: Thu, December 07, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Judge weighs 2 decades in prison for ex-cop's fatal shooting

Judge weighs 2 decades in prison for ex-cop's fatal shooting

Earlier this year, Slager pleaded guilty to violating Scott's civil rights.

The video that was shown in federal court had captions underneath, giving a transcript of what Slager and Scott said.

Slager, who has been in jail since his plea, had pulled Scott over for a broken brake light in April 2015.

This week's sentencing hearings are a chance for Judge Norton to decide the basis for Slager's punishment: second-degree murder, as the federal prosecution is arguing, or manslaughter, as posited by the defense. After he found that the shooting was murder, the judge said he'd work from guidelines that recommend Slager spend 19 to 24 years in prison.

"I think everybody's just ready to close this chapter of life and start the next chapter", Scott family lawyer Justin Bamberg said.

The North Charleston Police Department fired Slager after the footage surfaced publicly. Scott's mother, Judy, turned and spoke directly to Michael Slager.

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

At Slager's sentencing hearing in Charleston this week, prosecutors said the shooting was calculated, while the defense said the patrolman had felt threatened after Scott tried to take his stun gun during a struggle.

Walter Scott was fatally shot by Slager in 2015. Scott jumped out of the auto and ran. Scott was hit in the back five times.

At this week's hearing, attorneys for Slager and the state called expert witnesses to the stand to bolster rival interpretations of the video and audio, which included some dash-cam footage from Slager's vehicle.

A 3-D expert testified for the defense that the taser could've landed behind Slager because Scott threw it there, or it fell and bounced behind him.

During his state trial a year ago, Slager testified that he feared for his life when Scott grabbed for his weapon and charged at him.

"We will never be the same again", said Anthony Scott, the motorist's older brother. But there were no complaints from the Scotts about the findings from the judge, who also determined that Slager had made false and misleading statements. Slager contends he was securing the weapon.

Slager's state trial ended when a panel of 11 white jurors and one black juror deadlocked past year after deliberations over four days.

State prosecutors had tried Slager for murder last fall, but the judge declared a mistrial after a mostly white jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict-either on the charge of murder or a lesser manslaughter charge.

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