Walter Scott's Family Finds Justice in Killer's Conviction

Walter during a news conference after former police officer Michael Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison

Walter during a news conference after former police officer Michael Slager was sentenced to 20 years in prison

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - A white former SC police officer committed second-degree murder when he shot an unarmed black motorist to death and should expect to spend about two decades in prison, a judge said Thursday as he prepared to sentence the ex-officer for a federal civil rights violation.

A white former SC police officer who pleaded guilty to violating an unarmed black motorist's civil rights in a 2015 fatal shooting committed second-degree murder, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

Slager had said there was a struggle between the two men and Scott tried to take his stun gun, but Norton said a bystander's video of the incident showed otherwise.

Prosecutors, dispatched by the Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, spent the week driving home their main point: the fact that Scott can clearly be seen on video running away from Slager before, during, and after Slager shot him to death.

The shooting angered local African-Americans who complained for years that North Charleston police harassed blacks, pulling them over or questioning them unnecessarily as they cracked down on crime.

The mother of a slain black motorist says she forgives the white former SC police officer who killed her son.

Slager also apologised to the Scott family for his actions. As South Carolina Public Radio's Victoria Hansen reports, Slager turned to her and silently mouthed, "I'm sorry".

The case was ultimately heard in federal court after USA attorneys reached a plead deal with Slager earlier this year.

Scott's mother, Judy Scott, said through tears that her faith in God gives her the ability to forgive Slager. But according to the service records provided by the Coast Guard shortly after the shooting in April 2015, Slager separated as junior enlisted, suggesting his rank remained stagnant during his tenure with the branch. As part of a plea agreement reached in May, prosecutors dropped state murder charges.

"This is a tragedy that shouldn't have happened", US District Judge David Norton said. "I said you know how the North Charleston police does, seemed like they just picked at you for any reason".

"Forgiveness came easy for (others).it came very hard for me", said Scott's older brother, Anthony. The former North Charleston officer has been in jail since pleading guilty in May to violating Scott's civil rights, and Norton is tasked with deciding how much time he spends in prison.

Slager had claimed that Scott had wrested his stun gun from him, and that he fired his gun in self-defense. The video showed Scott running away from Slager and the officer firing eight times.

The death of Walter Scott, 50, was a key flashpoint in the Black Lives Matter movement.