In Emotional Plea Walter Scott’s Son Asks Judge to Give Slager Life in Prison

Walter Scott’s youngest son asked a federal judge Wednesday to give the former North Charleston police officer who fatally shot his father the maximum sentence: life in prison.

Sitting at a table between civil rights prosecutors, Miles Scott became emotional as he talked about how much he misses his father, whose picture he gripped tightly in his hands. Behind him, Walter Scott’s parents wiped their eyes as they listened to their grandson during the third day of Slager’s sentencing hearing that would stretch into a fourth.

“He will never see me play high school football, never see me graduate,” the teenager said. “My heart is destroyed because the way my father went was wrong. … I would like you to sentence the defendant to the strongest sentence the laws allow because he murdered my one and only father.”

The boy’s first courtroom statement about his father’s death came Wednesday as Slager grew closer to learning his punishment for shooting a fleeing Walter Scott in 2015, a killing that was captured on video and drew national attention. But that decision did not come.

With television crews amassed outside the Charleston federal courthouse and observers across the country awaiting the outcome, defense lawyers summoned their eighth witness and prosecutors, their fourth. The attorneys finished their arguments on issues that can affect the sentence, but U.S. District Judge David Norton still had not heard from other members of Scott’s and Slager’s families.

Norton might finally deliver Slager’s penalty Thursday. By law, the 36-year-old faces between no prison time and life.

‘It was murder’

Slager pulled over Scott’s car on April 4, 2015, for a broken brake light, but the 50-year-old motorist soon ran. Slager tried using his Taser to bring down Scott, who kept trying to get away.

After they struggled on the ground, they got back to their feet. By then, Slager said, Scott had taken the stun gun. The officer said he fired to stop Scott from using it on him.

But a bystander’s video showed Scott turning around as the Taser bounced behind the officer and Slager pulled out his pistol. The patrolman fired eight bullets as Scott ran away, hitting Scott five times from behind.

Though Slager pleaded guilty in May to a federal charge of violating Scott’s civil rights, Norton has listened to a dozen witnesses this week in preparing to decide his underlying offense: voluntary manslaughter or second-degree murder. The ruling could greatly affect the penalty that the former lawman ultimately receives.

A pre-sentencing report, which determined the offense to be manslaughter, recommended a term of between 10 and 13 years in prison. But that report is just a suggestion, and if Norton opts for murder, Slager could face a harsher punishment.

In making an argument on the point Wednesday, Washington-based civil rights prosecutor Jared Fishman said many people might have labeled Scott as a violent person. But maybe, he said, Scott should be given the same benefit of the doubt that people often give police officers in shootings.

“Maybe we have demonized the whole community of North Charleston and just called them criminals,” he said after defense testimony portrayed the city as a violent place since the shooting. “We cannot demonize a whole community.”

At one point, Fishman suggested that the defense was wasting time by calling unexpected witnesses, including 9th Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson, who discussed her handling of the state murder case that ended in a mistrial last year. Scott’s family, he said, was “anxiously trying to move on.”

“The killing of Walter Scott was not justified,” Fishman added in the closing argument. “It’s time to call the killing what it really was. It was murder.”

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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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