The white former policeman caught on video shooting an unarmed black man in the back after a 2015 traffic stop in South Carolina was sentenced on Thursday to 20 years in prison, with a federal judge ruling that the killing amounted to murder, Reuters reports.
The decision came a year after Michael Slager’s state murder trial for the death of 50-year-old Walter Scott ended with a deadlocked jury. Slager, 36, is one of the few police officers in recent years in the United States to receive prison time for an on-duty shooting.
“Everyone recognizes that this was a tragedy,” U.S. District Judge David Norton told a Charleston courtroom packed with members of both men’s families.
“What’s just for the Scott family is not necessarily just for the Slager family, and what’s just for the Slager family is not necessarily just for the Scott family,” he said.
Slager was a patrolman in North Charleston when he pulled over Scott, a father of four, for a broken brake light on April 4, 2015. He said he opened fire because he felt threatened after the motorist tried to take his stun gun during a struggle.