Fate of former officer’s sentence now in hands of federal judge

VIDEO: Fate of former officer’s sentence now in hands of federal judge

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - Following a two-day hearing, a federal judge will now decide if the 20-year prison sentence of a former North Charleston Police officer should be vacated.

Michael Slager is serving the sentence after pleading guilty to a civil rights charge in 2017. The former officer shot and killed Walter Scott, an unarmed Black man, after a traffic stop in 2015.

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

On the second day of the evidentiary hearing, Slager testified that he had no knowledge of a possible plea deal, despite receiving 23 communications related to the topic. Slager said he regularly received dozens of emails each day, and expected his then-lawyer, Andy Savage, to keep him abreast of important updates.

During closing arguments, Judge Richard Gergel said Slager would amount to a “momentously uncurious person” if he did not seek out information related to a possible plea deal.

“My suggestion is that he was the architect of his own demise,” Gergel said.

The victim’s brother also addressed the hearing. Anthony Scott said his family believed Slager had taken responsibility for Walter Scott’s death, but “apparently he hasn’t.”

Gergel said an order is forthcoming.

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