Health Care

Former SC cop committed 2nd-degree murder, judge rules

Former SC cop committed 2nd-degree murder, judge rules”

Looking scruffy and unshaven and wearing a gray-and-white-striped prison jumpsuit, former police officer Michael Slager sat still and stared straight ahead as the son of the 50-year-old unarmed black man he killed, Walter Scott, choked back tears.

Miles Scott clutched a framed photo of his father as the former police officer who fatally shot him came closer to learning his fate.

Michael Slager (right) walks from the Charleston following a mistrial past year.

Slager faces life in prison and $250,000 in fines.

The sentencing hearing for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager stretched into an unexpected fourth day on Thursday, when a sentencing from Judge David Norton is likely to be handed down.

"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", lawyer Andy Savage said. However, Savage said his client believed that Scott could have been armed based on the fact that he fled from the traffic stop which was initiated by a broken brake light on Scott's vehicle. "Walter Scott never took the defendant's Taser", Fishman said.

The sentencing hearing reconvenes Tuesday morning and could last several days.

U.S. District Judge David Norton on Thursday made that determination in the April 2015 shooting of Walter Scott. Prosecutors think it's murder, making Slager eligible for a life sentence.

Fredericks testified that his analysis of video showed Slager and Scott were engaged in an "altercation ... a fight on the ground" before the shooting. Slager, who is white, fired five times into Scott's back as he ran away.

The men move out of view of the dashcam. A second deployment brought Scott to the ground, but he got up and took off again.

On Monday, Slager's attorney attacked the credibility of a bystander whose cell phone video captured the fatal shooting and said his client was not a racist.

Imel, an Federal Bureau of Investigation video expert, also took the stand, showcasing how far away Scott was when Slager fired each shot on the cell phone video. "He grabbed my Taser", Slager is heard telling dispatchers.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys have had their own experts give their opinions on who had Slager's taser before the shooting.

That includes use of Slager's stun gun, which the former officer says Walter Scott grabbed and turned on him, causing Slager to fear for his life and shoot in self-defense.

And, Norton said, Slager obstructed justice by his inaccurate statements to law enforcement after the shooting.

The defense is arguing that Scott grabbed Slager's stun gun and had an altercation with him on the ground, which can not be clearly seen in the bystander's video. 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.

Forensic video expert Grant Fredericks also testified for the defense.

Imel also walked prosecutors through video showing Slager running back to the spot where the stun gun lay, picking it up, and later dropping it by Scott's body. Slager has maintained he was merely securing the weapon.

Wilson, who prosecuted Slager in his state trial which ended in a hung jury, got into a heated exchange with Savage.

Slager pleaded guilty to the charge earlier this year. The state murder charge was dropped as part of Slager's federal plea deal.

Savage has claimed that state and federal prosecutors teamed up to go after Slager together. Last year, Scott's relatives reached a $6.5 million settlement with the city of North Charleston.

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