White US officer gets 20 years for killing black male

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"This tragic event that occurred in seconds has changed the lives of everyone involved", he said.

A white former SC police officer who pleaded guilty to violating an unarmed black motorist's civil rights in a 2015 fatal shooting committed second-degree murder, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

The judge's ruling Thursday followed several days of testimony including from Feiden Santana, the witness who filmed the shooting, and Scott's mother, who broke down in tears before the sentence was announced.

Still, Slager pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Scott's civil rights.

"No matter what sentence I give, neither the Scott family nor Slager family is going to like it or think it's right", the judge said in a Charleston courtroom.

A state murder trial ended last December with a hung jury, and state prosecutors dropped the murder case in exchange for the plea on the federal charge.

Walter Scott's mother, Judy, holds up a photo of him as she walks to the media tents pitched outside of the courthouse in downtown Charleston.

Slager told investigators that Scott took his stun gun and that he opened fire to prevent him from using it.

Former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, 36, pleaded guilty to violating Mr Scott's civil rights by unjustly shooting him in the back five times as he was trying to run away.

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"I'm not angry at you, Michael".

She also told Slager she hoped he would repent for the killing and allow Jesus to come into his heart.

The judge agreed with prosecutors who argued at Slager's sentencing hearing this week that he showed malice and calculation in the April 2015 shooting.

U.S. District Judge David Norton had to decide whether Michael Slager's shooting of Walter Scott in April 2015 was manslaughter or murder before he sentences the ex-officer.

"This is a tragedy that shouldn't have happened", said Norton, who could have thrown the disgraced law enforcer behind bars for 24 years.

Scott's father has said his son may have been running from the officer because he owed child support and did not want to go to jail. He also said Slager obstructed justice by lying to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division agents after the incident.

For three days, attorneys representing the federal government and a former SC officer charged in an unarmed black motorist's shooting death have presented technical testimony to a judge considering how much time Michael Slager should spend in federal prison. In it, Scott could be seen running away from the officer, and Slager was shown pulling out his gun and firing five shots into Scott's back.

Scott, who was 50 at the time of his death, served two years with the U.S. Coast Guard Yard at Curtis Bay south of Baltimore, Maryland. What's known as victim impact testimony is meant to help the judge weigh the personal implications a crime has had.