Date: April 4, 2015
State: South Carolina
Officer: Michael Slager
Charged: Yes, 20 years prison for second-degree murder and obstruction of justice
Walter Scott was driving in North Charleston, South Carolina, when he was pulled over for a non-functioning third brake light, which is the brake light in the rear window. He was headed to the auto parts store, pulling over in the parking lot of the auto parts store. Dashcam footage shows a rather routine traffic stop with Officer Michael Slager asking Walter Scott for his driver’s license, registration, and insurance. Scott said he didn’t have any registration nor insurance because he had just bought the car. Slager then returns to his patrol car to run Scott’s driver’s license. Scott begins to step out of the car, signaling something to Slager, but he is told to stay in his car. After approximately ten seconds, Scott gets out of his car and begins to run. Both Slager and Scott are out of dashcam view, but the microphone on Slager’s vest leads us to believe he is chasing Scott. The microphone then cuts off.
Feidin Santana saw the encounter and began to capture eyewitness video. The footage shows Slager holding Scott’s arm, trying to prevent him from running away. Slager tells Scott that he’s reaching for his taser, but something drops on the ground while he is reaching for it. Scott was hit by the taser, but he continues to run. The footage then shows Slager going into shooting stance and firing eight shots at Scott’s back. Scott then drops to the ground, and Slager calls for backup. In the meanwhile, Slager runs over to Scott’s body and puts him in handcuffs. A second officer arrives to the scene and puts on latex gloves, but unlike what the police report had claimed that he began to administer CPR, he begins to search Scott’s body for any weapons. While the second officer is searching Scott’s body, Slager returns to pick up the object that previously dropped on the ground when he said he was reaching for his taser. He then places the object next to Scott’s body, but realizes that Santana is recording, so he picks up the object and places it on his belt. The second officer finally checks for a pulse. Walter Scott died at the scene. He was 50 years old.
Michael Slager was charged with murder in South Carolina, but he pleaded not guilty. The state trial ended in a mistrial in 2016. There was an expected state retrial and federal trial, but Slager pleaded guilty to violating Scott’s civil rights in exchange for a lesser sentence. Judge David Norton said that when Slager shot Scott, he did it out of “malice aforethought,” meaning that he did it with the intention to harm or even kill Scott before he committed a crime. Slager then falsified his testimony to state law enforcement officers.The judge sentenced Slager to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder and obstruction of justice along with two years of supervision after Slager’s release. He believed that giving Slager 20 years instead of life in prison was important because he’s subject to abuse in jail for his status as a
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