World Bulletin / News Desk
A white former South Carolina police officer was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison for fatally shooting an unarmed black motorist.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge David Norton said Michael Slager committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice when he fatally shot Walter Scott during a routine traffic stop in 2015.
"Slager shot Scott five times in the back for running away, simply for having a broken taillight," Jared Fishman of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division told in the court before the sentence was handed down.
"It is time to call it what it was, a murder," Fishman added
Slager pleaded not guilty at his first trial and claimed he was forced to open fire after Scott came toward him with a stun gun. The case ended in a mistrial in 2016.
But Slager pleaded guilty to violating Scott's civil rights in federal court in May after stunning video footage captured by a bystander showed Scott running away from Slager when he was shot.
“Michael Slager admitted what he did,” Judy Scott, the victim’s mother, said outside the courthouse after the plea hearing in May. “That was enough years for me, because no matter how many years Michael Slager gets, it would not bring back my son.”
The video, viewed millions of times online, was widely condemned and led to calls for accountability, resulting in Slager's dismissal from the police force and his subsequent indictment.
Scott's family later reached a $6.5 million settlement with the city of North Charleston.
The judge's ruling Thursday followed several days of testimony including from Feiden Santana, the witness who filmed the shooting, and Scott’s mother, who broke down in tears before the sentence was announced.
"If you met him, you would like him," she said. "I didn't know anyone who didn't like him."
She said she forgive Slager -- a fleeing echoed by Walter Scott's brother, Anthony.
"I miss my brother, and our family will never be the same," he said. "Until I got the help I needed, it helped me to release the pain of losing my brother. God gave forgiveness in my heart for Officer Slager.
"I'm not angry at you, Michael," he added. "I forgive you, and Michael, I pray for you now."
Slager's sentence concluded one of the few cases in which a police officer has been prosecuted for an on-duty shooting.
Scott’s death was among a number of killings that has provoked nationwide debate about law enforcement’s use of lethal force, particularly in cases involving black males.
On Thursday, Iraqi F-16 fighter jets struck ISIL positions in Syria
On Thursday, Iraqi F-16 fighter jets struck ISIL locations in neighboring Syria
Turkish Historical Society head cites research from past wars
Palestinian president stresses on 2-state solution to conflict, calls East Jerusalem capital
Israeli snipers have killed 39 protesters and injured thousands who posed no threat, says Swiss-based group
Foreign Minister Cavusoglu to address UN General Assembly on Turkey’s contributions, approach to UN efforts
At least 39 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire near Gaza border
Serbia's ambassador to Ankara says 5 government ministers will accompany Serbian president
He acted quickly -- just a day after decades of Castro rule ended and long time party loyalist Miguel Diaz-Canel assumed power as president.
Multimillion-dollar lawsuit raises issue of hacking of Democratic National Committee’s servers
Syrian regime would be 'ill-advised' to ignore message sent by last week’s allied missile strike, says US Defense Secretary
At least 39 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli interventions since border rallies began March 30
Thursday’s vote make Diaz-Canel first person outside Castro family to rule country in almost 60 years
Syrian regime had no clear picture of what was happening to them, says U.S. general, referring to U.S.-led joint attack
Hamas, Islamic Jihad announced plans earlier to boycott scheduled meeting of PLO’s National Council
Canadian provinces at war over future delivery of oil to Pacific countries