Dec 7, 2017, 1:38 PM ET

Ex-cop Michael Slager sentenced to 20 years for shooting death of Walter Scott

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Former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager was sentenced today to 20 years in prison for the deadly shooting of unarmed black man Walter Scott.

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. The second-degree murder ruling came with a recommended 19 to 24 year sentence.

At one point during the sentencing Scott's mother looked the former officer in the eye and told him she forgave him. Families on both sides of the court burst into tears.

One of Walter Scott's brothers, Rodney Scott, told the court that the death of his brother the worst day of his life. Rodney Scott said he wants Slager to pay for his actions.

PHOTO: This undated photo shows Walter Scott who was shot and killed by a police officer on April 4, 2015 in North Charleston, S.C. Acquired by ABC News
This undated photo shows Walter Scott who was shot and killed by a police officer on April 4, 2015 in North Charleston, S.C.

Slager’s father, mother, sister and wife also spoke to the judge, begging for a lighter sentence. They talked about how Slager led a life of service and how upset they were after the shooting. Michael Slager's wife, Jamie Slager, told the judge, “He had to make a decision in a split second. I couldn’t imagine having to make a decision that fast.”

The judge's decision comes after Michael Slager, who is white, pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights offense.

Michael Slager shot and killed Walter Scott on April 4, 2015, while Slager was an officer with the North Charleston Police Department. Michael Slager claimed self-defense, but witness cellphone video that surfaced shortly after the encounter showed the officer fatally shooting Walter Scott in the back as he ran away. He was fired from the force after the shooting.

PHOTO: A sequence of images made from a bystander video shows Officer Michael Slager pursuing and then shooting Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C. on April 4, 2015.Handout from family
A sequence of images made from a bystander video shows Officer Michael Slager pursuing and then shooting Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C. on April 4, 2015.

Michael Slager was charged in South Carolina with murder and pleaded not guilty. During the state murder trial, Michael Slager's attorney said his client shot Walter Scott because he was in fear for his life. In 2016, the case ended in a mistrial. The state retrial and federal trial were expected to take place this year, but instead, in May Michael Slager pleaded guilty to violating Walter Scott's civil rights in federal court, ending the federal case against him and also resolving the state charges that were pending after the mistrial.

Before hearing his sentence in federal court, Michael Slager called each family member out by name and apologized, thanking them for forgiving him. “I wish this never would have happened," he said. “I wish I could go back to the day and change the events, but I can’t.”

At a news conference after the sentencing, Rodney Scott said his family is "pleased."

"We got justice," he said.

PHOTO: The family of Walter Scott arrives at the Charleston federal court house building for the 4th day of testimony during the sentencing hearing for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager in Charleston, S.C, Dec. 7, 2017.Randall Hill/Reuters
The family of Walter Scott arrives at the Charleston federal court house building for the 4th day of testimony during the sentencing hearing for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager in Charleston, S.C, Dec. 7, 2017.

He said his family is "thankful for the justice system that worked on our behalf," but added that "a lot of work" still needs to be done in the justice system.

Another one of Walter Scott's brothers, Anthony Scott, thanked Feiden Santana, the witness who filmed the shooting, for being "brave" enough to film what he saw.

News - Ex-cop Michael Slager sentenced to 20 years for shooting death of Walter Scott

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  • Diva Denise

    Well I'll be. This cop actually got time?! I'm absolutely SHOCKED! I will be sure to keep my phone on the ready from now on. The body and dash cam didn't catch what ACTUALLY happened. An innocent bystander did that, and a mannerable one at that. He showed it to the Scott family first before making his decision to make it known that this cop shot Mr. Walter Scott - in cold blood - in the back. Kudos to you, Sir. And my condolences to the Scott family. For the cop, SO glad your fake tears didn't work on everybody.

  • yankee2

    Only 20 years for cold-blooded murder?

  • Lysdexic

    He was convicted of violating Scott's civil rights. He was NOT convicted of murder. The judge said he considered it murder for sentencing guidelines.
    Get your story straight.

  • Rocky

    One black man murdered 2-1/2 years ago. How many were shot and killed in Chicago and Detroit since then?

  • Gail Ann Decker

    ANOTHER ONE IS THE SHERIFF THAT SHOT AND KILLED THE 11 YEAR OLD KID WITH A TOY GUN! KILLED THE KID OUTRIGHT! THESE OLD MEN CAN'T DEFUSE/HANDLE A BOY!

  • Gail Ann Decker

    MURDER! SHOT THE MAN IN THE BACK HOW MANY TIMES? 4? 5? DEATH BY A FIRING SQUAD! THEY SAY THE BOYS IN PRISON WILL TAKE CARE OF IT!

  • Ellen Briggs

    God bless you Mrs. Scott. I am so sorry for your loss. A fine lady.

  • Kevin Schmidt

    Why wasn't his attorney charged for making false statements? It was obvious the murderer was not in fear of his life.

  • Thomas

    Is it too early to point out that we don't seem to have white people rioting, looting, and causing vandalism as a result of this verdict?

  • Bill Garrot

    "In fear of his life" of a man running AWAY from him with his back to him???

  • The Grim Reaper

    Our black community in this country, which accounts for 13% of the population commits over 50% of all murders. Hard for law enforcement to not be a bit nervous when you have a man with active warrants out for his arrest. Being sworn to uphold the law, are you just supposed to let a fleeing criminal run away?

  • Dale DeSombre

    He's going to squeal like a pig while in prison. Who's you daddy. Just sayin

  • dikki11

    Why did the guy run from the cop? Either way the cop shouldn't have shot him but if he didn't run and had just dealt with the issue the outcome would have been different. Sad story.

  • Night_Fury

    Appropriate sentence. Condolences to the family and friends of Walter Scott. A busted tail light should not get you killed.

  • Rocky

    There was absolutely no reason to even pursue Walter Scott, as they already had his car in custody, a 1991 Mercedes. They could have had the car towed to an impoundment lot and arrested Scott when he came to retrieve it.

  • Emmanuel Moyana

    Thats the power of cameras. Gone are the days when cops would get away with stuff like this. Now citizens have power and can film everything that happens.

  • sejn

    It was murder, not a "deadly shooting."

  • Rick Karp

    20 years for murder? What a joke! He’ll be out in 7! That’s justice? smh

  • Sharon Windus

    While I totally agree with the verdict and in this instance the officer was in the wrong, I still have to say that if the guy had stopped instead of running, this would never have happened.

  • Guy Norbury

    “He had to make a decision in a split second. I couldn’t imagine having to make a decision that fast.” his wifec said.

    Did she see the video? What is she talking about? He didnt shoot the guy once or twice in the back. He kept shooting and then tries to stage the scene. This guy got off light. Real light!

  • Misty Mac

    Feared for his life???? When the man was not walking, but RUNNING AWAY from him. Every time I see this story I’m just stunned.

    And his wife has the nerve to say he had to make s “split second decision”

    Over WHAT? “Hmmmmm. Let’s see. Should I make him a vegetable or murder him?”

    Cold blooded murder. He got too light of a sentence in my opinion. He shot in ANGER, not fear.