Sentencing Starts For Officer Who Shot, Killed Unarmed Man

FILE - In this Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, file photo, former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, right, walks from the Charleston County Courthouse under the protection of the Charleston County Sheriff’s Department after a mistrial was declared for his trial in Charleston, S.C. l Slager is in court Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, facing a possible life sentence for the April 2015 shooting death of Walter Scott. The foot chase and shooting were captured by a bystander on cellphone video that was seen by millions online. Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott’s civil rights. A state jury deadlocked last year on murder charges, which were dropped as part of his federal plea deal. (AP Photo/Mic Smith, File)

CHARLESTON, S.C. — A white former police officer who shot an unarmed black man to death as he fled a traffic stop never had any “racial animus” toward minorities in the community, his attorney said Monday.

The sentencing hearing for ex-officer Michael Slager opened up with his attorneys playing cellphone and dashcam video that showed the traffic stop and the shooting itself. Slager’s attorneys think the videos show him acting in calm, professional demeanor leading up to the fatal shooting of Walter Scott. Prosecutors believe it depicts the officer’s callous behavior.

Slager, 36, pleaded guilty in federal court in May to violating Scott’s civil rights and faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced by a judge, perhaps as soon as this week.

“There’s nothing in Michael Slager’s background, from birth to today, of any racial animus or any harassment of minority members of the community,” his attorney Andy Savage said.

Slager, a former North Charleston officer, pulled Scott over on April 4, 2015, for a broken brake light. He said he shot the 50-year-old black motorist in self-defense when Scott tried to grab his Taser.

By MEG KINNARD - Dec 4. 1:43 PM EDT AP


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