CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) – The son of a black South Carolina motorist killed by a white police officer as he fled a 2015 traffic stop asked a federal judge on Wednesday to sentence the former patrolman to life in prison for the death of his father.
“He murdered the one and only father I had,” Miles Scott, the 17-year-old son of Walter Scott, said in an emotional statement in U.S. District Court in Charleston.
U.S. District Judge David Norton could decide as soon as Wednesday the punishment for former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager. Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Walter Scott’s civil rights in the April 2015 shooting.
The case drew national attention after a bystander’s video of the shooting became public, fueling fresh concerns about how minorities are treated by police in the United States.
The video showed Slager firing his gun at 50-year-old Scott eight times as he ran from a traffic stop, hitting Scott five times from behind. Scott, who was pulled over for a broken brake light, was unarmed.
A state murder trial ended last December with a hung jury.
As part of the federal sentencing proceedings, Norton will decide whether Slager’s underlying crime was second-degree murder, as prosecutors contend, or voluntary manslaughter, which carries a lighter sentence.
Prosecutors say the shooting was deliberate and calculated. The defense disagrees and their witnesses testified this week that enhanced images and audio from the video supported Slager’s account that he felt threatened after Scott tried to take his stun gun.
Miles Scott, the only son out of Walter Scott’s four children, said he missed his father so much it left him sleepless most nights.
“My dad will never see my future kids, his grandchildren, and I know he would have loved them as much as he loved me,” said the teenager, speaking softly. “I still can’t believe he’s gone.”
Reporting by Greg Lacour; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Frances Kerry