Justice was not swift, but it has been served.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Norton sentenced former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager to 20 years in prison for the shooting death of Walter Scott, bringing to an end a painful chapter in the city’s history.
Mr. Norton’s decision came on the third day of testimony in a sentencing hearing after Mr. Slager pled guilty in May to federal civil rights charges. Mr. Slager shot Mr. Scott in the back five times in April 2015 as Mr. Scott was running away from police following a routine traffic stop.
Judge Norton had a wide range of sentencing options: Mr. Slager could have received a life sentence or he could have been set free.
It is frustrating that the case could not have been resolved in a state trial, which ended with a hung jury in December. Consequently, Mr. Slager, who is white, was sentenced under a federal civil rights violation of using excessive force to deprive Mr. Scott, a black man, of his rights under the law.
The underlying charge was second-degree murder, according to Judge Norton. The federal prison system does not have parole, meaning that Mr. Slager will have to serve his entire term, barring a successful appeal.
Mr. Slager’s guilty plea and his sentence mark milestones in the ongoing effort to bring greater accountability to police departments and address racial disparities in policing both here in the Lowcountry and nationwide.
The first South Carolina African-American to serve as state Supreme Court chief justice, Ernest Finney retired from the court in 2000, justifiably proud of a legacy of preserving what is good about our system and looking to make improvements where there is need. He is remembered for a quiet, lasting impact as leader of a court that made high-impact rulings on issues such as education and video poker.…
Nowhere is the pride in Finney greater than Orangeburg and at Claflin and S.C. State universities. As much as Finney maintained close ties to Claflin, he never forgot the accomplishments of the law school at S.C. State led by three faculty members at its inception in the 1940s.
In fact, Finney said one of his regrets was not fighting harder to prevent the demise of the law school when the USC school was integrated.
But he gave back to S.C. State in ways beyond preserving the law school. In 2002, he came to the university’s rescue by agreeing to serve as interim president at age 81.
Such was the life of Ernest Finney and his record of service.
As Columbia attorney I.S. Leevy Johnson told The Associated Press about Finney: "He had one hand on the ladder pulling himself up and one hand behind him pulling others up.”
(S)ome schools do delve into teaching children about that in an effort to stave off fights and bullying, but we are beginning to think that somehow, some way, schools will need to ensure this is covered. Covered early, covered often.
Why? Because while we do not have the answers on what to do to decrease the gun violence among our youth, a problem that seems to be way too prevalent in our society and certainly right here in the Lakelands, surely building such skill sets would be a worthwhile attempt to address the problem.…
Too often, however, our environment — wittingly or unwittingly — sends the message that shooting someone is the way to resolve matters. Once and for all.
It’s not the gun laws — although enforcement of our current gun laws needs to be a priority, and loopholes need to be closed in an effort to better ensure guns do not get into the wrong hands. A teenager should not be able to easily access and use a handgun to resolve his conflicts with another teen.
Teaching conflict resolution at an early age, and in a structured classroom setting, won’t prevent all gun violence. We’re not so naive as to think so.
Still, if teaching high school kids how to perform CPR is deemed a worthwhile element in their education as a means of saving lives, why not pour some time and effort into conflict resolution and also potentially save lives?