A white former South Carolina officer was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Thursday for fatally shooting an unarmed black motorist in the back in 2015, wrapping up a case that became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. Before US District Judge David Norton announced the punishment, he had to decide whether Michael Slager's shooting of Walter Scott in April 2015 was manslaughter or murder; he ruled it was second-degree murder, and the guidelines recommended Slager spend 19 to 24 years in prison, reports the AP. "No matter what sentence I give, neither the Scott family nor the Slager family is going to think that it's right," the judge said.
Scott's mother, Judy Scott, said through tears that her faith in God gives her the ability to forgive Slager. Scott's brother Anthony Scott echoed that sentiment. "I'm not angry at you, Michael. 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. Attorneys for the ex-North Charleston officer said he shot 50-year-old Walter Scott in self-defense after the two fought and Scott reached for Slager's stun gun. They said race didn't play any role in the shooting and that Slager never had any "racial animus" toward minorities. Still, Slager pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Scott's civil rights. As part of the plea agreement reached in May, prosecutors dropped state murder charges. A year ago, a state judge declared a mistrial when jurors deadlocked.
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