Judge: Ex-cop committed murder in shooting death of motorist in 2015

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That plea put Slager's fate in the hands of U.S. District Judge David Norton, who was tasked with determining whether the ex-cop was guilty of manslaughter or murder - and what sentence he should serve for either offense. Before a state retrial and a federal trial, Slager in May pleaded guilty to violating Scott's civil rights in federal court. There was a tasering and a tussle, and when the unarmed Scott managed to run away, Slager fired eight shots from behind, killing him.

A sentencing hearing is taking place this week in Charleston for Slager, the former North Charleston police officer sho shot and killed Scott in April of 2015 following a traffic stop. At the end of it, a judge will decide whether he thinks the civil rights violation was voluntary manslaughter or murder.

Judy Scott on turned toward Slager on Thursday and said her faith in God gives her the ability to forgive him for killing her son.

Norton's decision in a federal court in Charleston opened the way for a sentence of 19 to 24 years in prison for Slager.

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"My dad will never see my future kids, his grandchildren, and I know he would have loved them as much as he loved me", Miles Scott said in a slow, soft voice.

In court on Thursday, members of Scott's family offered forgiveness to Slager but said their pain had not diminished.

Slager faces life in prison and $250,000 in fines.

Defense attorneys say Slager, who has been in jail since May, deserves a far lesser sentence, in part because he has accepted responsibility for the shooting. But the Scott family successfully pleaded for calm, asking everyone to let the justice system run its course. Scott was hit in the back five times.

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The bystander's video started recording after the struggle between Slager and Scott.

At this week's hearing, attorneys for Slager and the state called expert witnesses to the stand to bolster rival interpretations of the video and audio, which included some dash-cam footage from Slager's vehicle. Scott, 50, jumped out of the vehicle and Slager chased him for about 200 yards before the men scuffled and Scott was shot. Slager has maintained he was merely securing the weapon. But there were no complaints from the Scotts about the findings from the judge, who also determined that Slager had made false and misleading statements.

Slager faced murder charges in state court, but a jury in that case deadlocked past year, and the charges were dropped as part of his federal plea deal. Last year, Scott's relatives reached a $6.5 million settlement with the city of North Charleston.

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