Michael Slager wants 20-year sentence reduced, claiming ineffective counsel

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The former North Charleston police officer who is serving time in federal prison for shooting and killing an unarmed black man in 2015 wants his sentence vacated.

Michael Slager is serving a 20-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to a civil rights charge in 2017. He shot and killed Walter Scott after a traffic stop.

Slager recently brought a motion to vacate, set aside, or correct his sentence in which he claims that his counsel was ineffective.

During the first day of an evidentiary hearing, attorney Andy Savage testified that Judge David Norton mentioned to him that the trial “was not a murder case.”

He said the judge discounted the pre-sentencing report in sentencing Slager to 20 years, but that the judge’s alleged comments did not sway his performance in the case in any manner.

Slager’s wife, Jamie, testified that she had heard discussions about the judge’s alleged comment.

“That’s why we decided to take the plea deal,” she said. “That’s why Mike, you know, is where he is.”

During his testimony, Savage called Slager a “very, very, very good person” who dedicated his life to service.

“I feel terrible,” he said. “My judgement was blemished by all the good things that I knew about Michael.”

Savage said he does not believe Slager deserved a sentence longer than 10 years. The hearing is expected to continue on Tuesday.

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