Michael Slager sentenced to 20 years in prison for fatal shooting of Walter Scott

CHARLESTON, S.C., Dec 7 (Reuters) - A white former South Carolina policeman caught on video shooting an unarmed black man in the back after a 2015 traffic stop was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years in federal prison for violating the motorist's civil rights.

Michael Slager, 36, pleaded guilty in May to using excessive force when he killed 50-year-old Walter Scott in North Charleston. Slager, then a police officer on the local force, shot Scott eight times, hitting him five times.

A bystander's cellphone video of the shooting drew national attention to the case, renewing concerns in the United States about police use of deadly force against unarmed black men.

RELATED: A look back at Walter Scott's funeral

18 PHOTOS
Walter Scott funeral
See Gallery
Walter Scott funeral
SUMMERVILLE, SC - APRIL 11: A young child walks among mourners as they attend the funeral service for Walter Scott at the W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center, after he was fatally shot by a North Charleston police officer after fleeing a traffic stop in North Charleston on April 11, 2015 in Summerville, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed on April 4 by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop. The officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SUMMERVILLE, SC - APRIL 11: Judy Scott is greeted after the funeral for her son Walter Scott, at the W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center, after he was fatally shot by a North Charleston police officer after fleeing a traffic stop in North Charleston on April 11, 2015 in Summerville, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed on April 4 by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop. The officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
US Senator Tim Scott (R), R-SC, departs following the funeral of Walter Scott at WORD Ministries Christian Center in Summerville , South Carolina on April 11, 2015. Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday for the funeral of Walter Scott, an unarmed black suspect who was shot dead by a white officer in South Carolina as he fled following a routine traffic stop. Scott's death, which a bystander caught on video, has reignited debates about excessive police force and race relations in the United States. Scott's body arrived, where family, friends, politicians and law enforcement gathered to bury the 50-year-old father of four. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 10: A passer-by looks on at the site where Walter Scott was killed on April 4th by a North Charleston police officer on April 10, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop and the officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 10: A memorial is seen through a fence marking the site where Walter Scott was killed on April 4th by a North Charleston police officer on April 10, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop and the officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Tiffany Williams (C), a childhood friend of Walter Scott, the 50-year-old man who was shot as he ran away from an officer after a traffic stop, is hugged by Project Street Outreach Manager Denise Cromwell, as she breaks down while visiting the spot where Scott was killed in Charleston, South Carolina on April 9, 2015. The shooting is America's latest high-profile police killing of a black man by white officers. A string of such shootings of unarmed victims, where officers are rarely charged, have sparked protests around the country with demonstrators alleging racism in the nation's police forces. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
After watching the video, the senseless shooting and taking of #WalterScott's life was absolutely unnecessary and avoidable. (1/2)
My heart aches for the family and our North Charleston community. I will be watching this case closely. (2/2)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: A family friend of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, breaks down during a rally outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
Recap of the press conference: https://t.co/342hrODMkF #WalterScott
Officer Michael Slager fired 8 shots toward #WalterScott, Attorney says 4 hit him, 2 fatal: http://t.co/y8mqwG3zD6 http://t.co/LkwfB2SwQc
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"I wish this never would have happened," Slager said in U.S. District Court in Charleston minutes before learning his punishment. "I wish I could go back and change events, but I can’t and I am very sorry for that."

Earlier on Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Norton ruled that Slager had committed second-degree murder and obstructed justice by lying to investigators three days after the April 2015 shooting.

Slager had said there was a struggle between the two men and Scott tried to take his stun gun, but Norton said the video of the incident showed otherwise.

The judge agreed with prosecutors who argued at Slager's sentencing hearing this week that he showed malice and calculation. Norton rejected the defense argument that Slager was provoked or acted in the heat of passion. (Reporting by Greg Lacour; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Chizu Nomiyama)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.