CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The son of a black motorist who was shot to death by a white former police officer asked a judge Wednesday to hand down the stiffest sentence possible: life in prison.
Clutching a photograph of his father, Miles Scott said he has had trouble sleeping ever since his father, Walter Scott, was shot in the back while running from then-officer Michael Slager after a traffic stop in 2015. He said he misses watching football games with his dad.
“I miss my father every day,” the high school student said through tears. “I would like you to sentence the defendant to the strongest sentence the laws allows because he murdered my one and only father.”
Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Walter Scott’s civil rights. Federal officials have recommended 10 to nearly 13 years in prison, but his attorneys argue the 36-year-old Slager should face far less time.
U.S. District Judge David Norton could hand down the sentence this week. Before he does that, he will decide whether the shooting was second-degree murder or manslaughter.
Slager faced murder charges in state court, but a jury in that case deadlocked last year, and the state charges were dropped as part of his federal plea deal.
Slager pulled Scott over for a broken brake light in April 2015, and the 50-year-old Scott ran during the stop. After deploying his stun gun, Slager fired eight bullets at Scott as he ran away, hitting him five times in the back.
Slager has said the two men scuffled and he fired in self-defense after Scott grabbed his stun gun. In his closing argument, defense attorney Andy Savage acknowledged the shooting was criminal but reiterated the stance that his client was protecting himself and feared for his own safety.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Jared Fishman disputed that story.
“Walter Scott never assaulted the defendant. Walter Scott never took the defendant’s Taser,” Fishman said.
The attorney portrayed Slager as calm, calculated officer who hadn’t killed Scott in a moment of passion but did so intentionally — a hallmark of murder, not manslaughter.
“He was not in a frenzy,” Slager said. “He was not in the throes of passion.”
Fishman also said Slager had changed his story several times as to what he remembered about the shooting, including flawed state trial testimony about Scott charging him with his own stun gun. Fishman said those statements aren’t backed up by evidence.
“This is not memory loss,” Fishman said. “This is a concerted, deliberate effort to…