Attorney General Sessions responds to Slager sentencing

WASHINGTON (WCBD) – Former North Charleston, South Carolina, Police Department (NCPD) Officer Michael Slager, 36, was sentenced to 20 years in prison today for his commission of a federal civil rights offense during his fatal shooting of Walter Scott, Jr. on April 4, 2015. This sentence resulted from the Court’s determinations that Slager’s actions in shooting Mr. Scott constituted second-degree murder, and his subsequent conduct constituted obstruction of justice as defined by federal sentencing guidelines.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, U.S. Attorney Beth Drake of the District of South Carolina, Special Agent in Charge Alphonse “Jody” Norris of the FBI’s Columbia Division, Solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson of the Ninth Judicial Circuit, and Chief Mark Keel of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced today’s sentence by U.S. District Judge David C. Norton.

According to documents filed in connection with the guilty plea entered on May 2, 2017, Michael Slager, while acting as an NCPD Officer, willfully used deadly force on Walter Scott even though it was objectively unreasonable under the circumstances. Slager had stopped Scott’s vehicle after observing that a brake light was not working. During the stop, Scott fled on foot and Slager pursued him. During the foot chase, Slager deployed his Taser and Scott fell to the ground. Scott managed to get off of the ground and again run away. Scott was unarmed and running away when Scott fired eight shots at him from his department-issued firearm. Five shots hit Scott, with all of the bullets entering from behind. Scott died as a result of the injuries from Slager’s gunshots.

“Law enforcement officers have the noble calling to serve and protect,” Attorney General Sessions said. “Officers who violate anyone’s rights also violate their oaths of honor, and they tarnish the names of the vast majority of officers, who do incredible work. Those who enforce our laws must also abide by them—and this Department of Justice will hold accountable anyone who violates the civil rights of our fellow Americans. On behalf of the Department of Justice, I want to offer my condolences to the Scott family and loved ones.”

“This state, this nation, owe a tremendous thanks to the Scott family for their commitment to see this case through,” said U.S. Attorney Drake. “Their grace, their commitment are a lesson for us all. The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, with the support of the FBI, conducted a thorough investigation that enabled us to build an excessive force case against former officer Michael Slager. I am so proud of the work put into this case by the dedicated law enforcement, victim advocates and trial teams at the state and federal level.”

“When a law enforcement officer—who swears an oath to protect and serve—violates the civil rights of an individual, it erodes the public’s trust in the entire law enforcement community,” said Special Agent in Charge Norris. “The FBI will always respond to these acts and support our state and local partners, like the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), as we all strive to ensure the perpetrator meets justice. The excellent work of SLED, the United States Attorney’s Office, and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice in bringing this matter to a close is to be commended.”

The federal case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nathan Williams and Alyssa Richardson of the District of South Carolina, Special Litigation Counsel Jared Fishman, and Trial Attorney Rose Gibson of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. The case was investigated by the FBI’s Columbia Division and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. The state case is being prosecuted by Scarlett A. Wilson and the Office of the Solicitor of the Ninth Judicial Circuit.

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