Sentencing phase begins in SC police shooting

Sketch of testimony at Monday's Michael Slager sentencing hearing

Sketch of testimony at Monday's Michael Slager sentencing hearing

Words used by both Walter Scott and Michael Slager were the highlights of testimony from experts brought on by Slager's defense team, during day two of the sentencing hearing.

Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott's civil rights, shooting the motorist in the back as he ran away.

Slager's attorney, Andy Savage of Charleston, introduced evidence during the hearing to contend that Scott had resisted arrest and posed a threat to the officer in the seconds before the shooting.

The video that was shown in federal court had captions underneath, giving a transcript of what Slager and Scott said.

Last December, a jury of Slager's peers couldn't unanimously agree - a lone, contrarian juror was unwilling to convict the former cop. Scott's mother, Judy, turned and spoke directly to Michael Slager.

Scott's father also addressed the court asking the judge to listen to God before ruling. Norton ruled that Slager committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice. "Michael, I forgive you, and Michael, I do pray for you now and for your family, because we've gone through a traumatic time", he said. Prior to this, Slager had pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges as a part of a deal where SC prosecutors dropped a pending murder charge against him. At issue was Slager's state of mind and the facts of the physical altercation that preceded the shooting-including whether Scott had handled Slager's Taser and what was said between the men.

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The cellphone video of the shooting went viral, renewing concerns in the United States about police use of deadly force against unarmed black men.

Scott's family testified before the sentence was handed down and said they had forgiven Slager.

"No matter what sentence I give, neither the Scott family or the Slager family is going to like it or think it is right", Norton told the court. A bystander recorded the incident, in which the 50-year-old Scott was hit five times from behind, sparking a national outcry. The sentencing guidelines call for 19 to 24 years in prison, the judge says, and he will make a more specific determination later.

Slager shot and killed Scott on April 4, 2015, while Slager was an officer with the North Charleston Police Department. Under questioning by Slager's attorney, Ghent said Monday the stun gun was never tested for fingerprints and that there was no reason for Slager to re-holster the weapon rather than leave it on the ground where it fell.

The 2015 killing of Scott kickstarted efforts to reform local police practices.

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