COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeal of a former South Carolina policeman sentenced to 20 years in federal prison in the shooting death of an unarmed motorist who was running away from a traffic stop.
In a notice issued Monday, the high court turned down the case from Michael Slager. The former North Charleston police officer was sentenced in 2017 after pleading guilty to a civil rights violation in the shooting death of Walter Scott.
Scott had broken away from the white North Charleston police officer in 2015 and was running away when Slager fired eight bullets from his service weapon, striking the 50-year-old Scott five times in the back. The shooting, captured on a bystander’s cellphone and shared around the world, was seen by many as an example of police officers mistreating African Americans, and the case became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Slager’s lawyer argued that the officer acted in self-defense and got carried away but never had any “racial animus” toward minorities. Still, Slager pleaded guilty in federal court to violating Scott’s civil rights. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors agreed to drop state murder charges that still lingered after a first state proceeding ended in a mistrial when a jury couldn’t agree whether he had committed a crime.
Slager’s lawyers appealed his federal conviction and sentence, but the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a trial judge “committed no reversible error” in the case.
Slager’s appellate attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment Wednesday.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP .