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Black and Brown Lives Matter: Cases of Police Killings and Assaults


Walter Scott, a 50-year-old Black man, was pulled over by police officer Michael Slager for a non-functioning brake light on April 4, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina.  Slager then shot Scott 5 times in the back when Scott tried to flee.  The officer had reported a different story about what happened, but when a witness video surfaced showing Scott being shot in the back, the South Carolina Law Enforcement, the FBI, and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division all started investigations into the incident.  A South Carolina grand jury indicted the officer on murder charges, but that trial ended in a mistrial, and shortly after, Slager pled guilty on federal civil rights violations charges in exchange for the state murder charges being dropped.  The federal trial ultimately resulted in a 20-year prison sentence for Slager, and the underlying offense was determined to be second-degree murder.

A sign from a protest after Scott's death outside the City Hall in North Charleston, South Carolina

Litigation/ Lawsuits

The federal government prosecuted Slager on civil rights violations, which resulted in a 20-year sentencing:

United States v. Slager

The court's opinion is linked above.  Public access to the opinion can be found here.

Scott's family also reached a settlement with the city of North Charleston for $6.5 million.

Relevant Statutes

18 U.S.C.A. § 1111: Murder

Westlaw; Lexis

(a) Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought. Every murder perpetrated by poison, lying in wait, or any other kind of willful, deliberate, malicious, and premeditated killing; or committed in the perpetration of, or attempt to perpetrate, any arson, escape, murder, kidnapping, treason, espionage, sabotage, aggravated sexual abuse or sexual abuse, child abuse, burglary, or robbery; or perpetrated as part of a pattern or practice of assault or torture against a child or children; or perpetrated from a premeditated design unlawfully and maliciously to effect the death of any human being other than him who is killed, is murder in the first degree.

Any other murder is murder in the second degree.