Sentencing phase begins in SC police shooting

Lester Mason
December 7, 2017

"He loved me to death and he was always there for me".

A white former police officer who shot and killed an unarmed black man fleeing a 2015 traffic stop in SC could learn as soon as Thursday whether he will spend the rest of his life in prison for violating the motorist's civil rights. "It is time to call the shooting of Walter Scott what it was: It was a murder".

Miles Scott, his voice shaky, sat next to his mother as he read the statement.

Members of the Scott family filled one side of the courtroom Monday.

"Your honor, I miss my dad so much I can't sleep at night", the young man said". "As life goes on, my father will never see me play high school football, graduate from high school, graduate from college", said Miles Scott as he held back tears.

Slager, a former North Charleston officer, pulled Scott over on April 4, 2015, for a broken brake light.

The judge will hear more victim impact statements Thursday morning. The state murder charge was dropped as part of Slager's federal plea deal. He faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced by a judge, perhaps as soon as this week. The judge will impose the sentence.

"The defendant shot Walter Scott in the back eight times as he was running away", prosecutor Jared Fishman said during his closing argument late Wednesday. He said it was "time to call it what it was - a murder", second-degree murder, specifically.

Slager's attorney Andy Savage said Scott was partly responsible because he grabbed Slager's taser and tried to use it on the ex-cop.

Wade Humphrey, who trains North Charleston Police Department officers, testified for the defense on Wednesday that Slager used the correct level of force and followed protocol during the shooting.

When Judge Norton asked Humphries whether he believed Scott's killing constituted a "righteous shooting", Humphries simply replied, "No".

Slager, 36, pleaded guilty in federal court in May to violating Scott's civil rights by shooting Scott without justification.

Forensic video expert Grant Fredericks also testified for the defense.

Slager's attorneys have painted him as a dedicated and professional former law enforcement officer who'd never exhibited a tinge of racism.

Fredericks also said his analysis showed taser wire was wrapped around Slager's leg and was connected to Scott right before the shooting. Slager told Morgan that he didn't remember Walter Scott being on top of him, but believed he was tased by Scott.

"I don't know of any cases why a law enforcement officer would intentionally move a weapon to a suspect", the witness said.

"Nothing in his background from birth to today shows signs of any racial bias", Savage said.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agent Anthony Imel returned to the stand and the defense used a tape measure to show how far away the cell phone video was shot from the scene, trying to prove it was too far to hear proper audio of the incident.

"It was abuse and something that wasn't necessary", he said, describing Slager's actions. He concluded that Scott and Slager fought on the ground and engaged in a physical altercation prior to the shooting.

A 3-D expert testified for the defense that the taser could've landed behind Slager because Scott threw it there, or it fell and bounced behind him. The audio is muffled, but the officer can be heard yelling at Scott to get down on the ground. According to Hallimore, after filtering out noise, he could hear Slager telling Scott to let go of his taser.

Slager testified during his state trial that he shot Scott in self-defense because he felt threatened when the man grabbed his stun gun.

He argued that even at 18 feet away, Scott posed a threat and could have turned around and charged him.

"Walter Scott never assaulted the defendant". A microphone on Slager's uniform also picked up Scott saying, "F-k the police" after Slager asked him to get on the ground, the expert testified.

Hallimore says he perceived Slager was in real trouble.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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