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Son of Slain Black Man Wants Life in Prison for Ex-Officer

Police Shooting

Michael Slager in booking photo

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — The youngest 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 framed photograph of his father, Miles Scott said he has had trouble sleeping 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 and is upset he would never see him play the game himself.

“I miss my father every day,” Miles Scott 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.”

Miles Scott was allowed to make a victim impact statement before the end of defense witness testimony so he could return to his high school classes.

Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Walter Scott’s civil rights. Federal officials have recommended 10 to nearly 13 years in prison. His attorneys argue the 36-year-old Slager should face far less time.

U.S. District Judge David Norton could hand down the sentence as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

Slager faced murder charges in state court, but a jury in that case deadlocked last year, and the charges were dropped as part of his federal plea deal.

At the sentencing hearing, which began Monday, prosecutors and defense attorneys have put up more than half a dozen witnesses, several of whom have analyzed video and audio recordings of the shooting death.

On Wednesday, prosecutors cross-examined Dr. Charles Morgan, a forensic psychiatrist who examined Slager in May 2016 and diagnosed him with normal psychological function. Morgan said he felt that Slager had an above-average tolerance for stress and didn’t diagnose him with any disorder related to memory loss.

During his examination, Slager told the doctor he remembered having a “scuffle” with Scott but otherwise didn’t recall specific details from any fight the men had. Slager testified during his state trial that he shot Scott in self-defense because he felt threatened when the man grabbed his stun gun.

Slager had pulled Scott over for a broken brake light, 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.

Unlike his state trial, these federal proceedings are taking place before a judge, with no jury.

On Tuesday, more differences between the two state and federal cases became clear. The judge allowed expert witnesses to testify about disputed audio and video recordings of the shooting. Grant Fredericks, a forensic video expert, testified that his analysis showed Slager fought with Scott before their fatal encounter and the ex-officer said: “Let go of my Taser before I shoot you.”

The defense team believes that evidence bolsters Slager’s contention that Scott was aggressive and that the officer shot him in self-defense. A microphone on Slager’s uniform also picked up Scott saying, “F–k the police” after Slager asked him to get on the ground, Fredericks testified.

Prosecutors counter that there is no way to definitively tell what is being said on the recordings, and they have used their own experts to show how Slager fired at Scott as he was running away, nowhere near the officer’s stun gun.

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