The former South Carolina police officer who shot and killed an unarmed Walter Scott in 2015 has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
According to ABC News, the officer, 33 at the time of the shooting, now 36, was looking at the possibility of life in prison, which was what federal prosecutors were seeking. However, U.S. District Judge David Norton, who concluded that Slager had committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice, sentenced him based on guidelines that would put him away for between 19 and 24 years.
Interesting enough, Slager’s family, particularly his father, mother and sister, asked Judge Norton to give Slager a light sentence in the Charleston court room.
Slager’s defense team was also seeking an even lighter sentence based on a voluntary manslaughter ruling, hoping he would only get 12 or 13 years, at the maximum, in prison. According to the New York Times, this hope was of a worry about alleged “risk of prison abuse” against him. But the judge ruled that in the end, the killing should be ruled a murder and sentenced Slager based on that.
Slager shot and killed Scott, a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, on April 4, 2015 after a traffic stop over a broken taillight. Scott got out of his car during the traffic stop and proceeded to run, and his family believed it was because he feared being arrested for unpaid child support. The former officer claimed he chased after Scott and after struggling over his taser, shot the man in self-defense out of “total fear” for his life. But a video taken by Feiden Santana, who witnessed the incident, found that Scott was unarmed and Slager never caught up to the 50-year-old. Instead, he fired multiple shots at his back as the man fled. He was fired following the shooting.
Slager was charged with murder in South Carolina and plead not guilty, with the initial case ending in a mistrial in 2016.
While the sentencing is probably not as much as much people who’ve followed the case would like, considering that many officers get zero time for murdering Black men and women in this country, it’s something. And for the family, it seems to be enough.