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Ex-South Carolina cop's shooting of motorist was murder: judge
07 December 2017, 07:35 | Opal Carroll
Former SC cop committed 2nd-degree murder, judge rules
Michael Slager, 36, pleaded guilty in May to using excessive force when he killed 50-year-old Walter Scott after a traffic stop in North Charleston.
A bystander's cellphone video didn't capture the struggle but did show Slager firing into Scott as he was running away.
On April 4, 2015, Slager stopped the auto Scott was driving in North Charleston for a broken rear brake light. At the end of it, a judge will decide whether he thinks the civil rights violation was voluntary manslaughter or murder.
"There's nothing in Michael Slager's background, from birth to today, of any racial animus or any harassment of minority members of the community", his attorney Andy Savage said, countering assertions that the officer acted violently because Scott was black. "Slager's actions were disproportional to Scott's misconduct".
Retired North Charleston officer Wade Humphries, a former indirect supervisor of Michael Slager, called Slager his "go-to" man in the department and said that Slager was following his training when shooting at the suspect "until the threat cease [d]".
Walter Scott's son, Miles Scott, encouraged Norton to put Slager behind bars for life.
The sentencing hearing reconvenes Tuesday morning and could last several days.
Slager faces life in prison and $250,000 in fines.
Defense lawyers say Slager has accepted responsibility for the shooting. But the Scott family successfully pleaded for calm, asking everyone to let the justice system run its course.
Walter Scott was fatally shot by Slager in 2015.
Prosecutors' first witness was the man who recorded the shooting on the way to his job at a barbershop.
Scott's mother has said she forgives the officer. 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.
During his state trial past year, Slager testified that he feared for his life when Scott grabbed for his weapon and charged at him. Scott's brother Anthony Scott echoed that sentiment. Slager contends he was securing the weapon.
Slager pleaded not guilty, and his attorney said at trial a year ago that his client feared for his life. State prosecutors were set to retry him earlier this year, but as part of a plea agreement, Slager pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation for using excessive force and SC agreed to drop the murder charge.
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