Slager plead guilty to a federal violation of civil rights charge in May after the jury in his state trial was deadlocked. I had little hope that federal charges would amount to much, even though Slager was possibly facing a life sentence for murder one. Slager and his lawyers obviously thought the same and they had every reason to believe that Slager would get off lightly, if serve any time at all.
Today a federal judge ruled that Michael Slager will be sentenced to prison for murder.
Former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager has been sentenced to 19 to 24 years in prison for the deadly shooting of unarmed black man Walter Scott.
U.S. District Judge David Norton ruled today that the former officer committed second-degree murder and obstruction of justice. The judge's sentencing decision comes after Slager, who is white, pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights offense.
Slager shot and killed Scott on April 4, 2015, while Slager was an officer with the North Charleston Police Department. Witness video that surfaced shortly after the encounter appeared to show the moment Slager fatally shot Scott as he ran away. He was fired from the force after the shooting.
Slager was charged in South Carolina with murder and pleaded not guilty. During the murder trial, Slager's attorney said his client shot Scott because he was in fear for his life. In 2016, the case ended in a mistrial. The state retrial and federal trial were expected to take place this year, but instead, in May Slager pleaded guilty to violating Scott's civil rights in federal court, ending the federal case against him and also resolving the state charges that were pending after the mistrial.
The judge's ruling today followed several days of testimony, including from Feiden Santana, the witness who filmed the shooting, and Judy Scott, Walter Scott's mother.
I'm good with this, if not ecstatic. There are federal judges that still can see obvious abuses of power by police in America and can deliver justice. But keep in mind as I said recently that if Donald Trump has his way, federal courts will be packed with hundreds of new terrible right-wing judges with lifetime tenures.
And then black lives truly won't matter anymore.