The second day of Michael Slager’s sentencing hearing is underway.
Slager, the former South Carolina police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man, began his sentencing hearing on Monday. He entered the courtroom on Tuesday wearing a gray and white prison suit and handcuffs.
Slager, 36, pleaded guilty in May to violating Walter Scott’s civil rights. He had said that he shot Scott multiple times in self-defense, alleging that Scott had attempted to grab his Taser. However, cell phone video captured at the scene showed Slager shooting Scott in the back as he tried to run away.
Slager could face life in prison, depending on if the judge says the shooting was murder or manslaughter. The sentencing hearing is expected to last several days.
Slager, a white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., encountered Scott on April 4, 2015, after he stopped him for a non-functioning taillight.
The altercation between Slager and Scott has been heavily debated and scrutinized, according to the Charleston Post and Courier. Prosecutors have alleged that during a struggle between the two men on the ground, Slager remained in control of his Taser. They said he threw the device to the ground at one point in order to grab his firearm.
Cell phone video taken by a bystander showed Scott attempting to run away after the stop. Slager then fired his gun eight times at the fleeing man, hitting him five times.
After he shot Scott, Slager dropped the Taser near Scott’s unmoving body, according to the Post and Courier. Later, as seen in the video, Slager picked up the Taser and returned it to his belt, the newspaper reported.
Slager has argued that he fired his weapon as self-defense, even as Scott ran away. His attorneys have also argued that the use of force “was … rooted in Scott’s misconduct,” according to the Post and Courier.
The Scott family previously reached a $6.5 million settlement with the city of North Charleston.
While that case was ongoing, federal authorities pursued a parallel investigation against Slager on civil rights charges. Solicitor Scarlett Wilson had planned to bring a second case against Slager later this year, but those charges were dropped as part of his federal plea deal.
Slager pleaded guilty in May to violating Scott’s civil rights.
During the sentencing hearing in downtown Charleston, the judge will determine if the shooting is voluntary manslaughter or murder. Prosecutors have pushed for the latter as Slager would then be eligible to a life sentence in prison.
Slager’s attorneys have lambasted the potential murder designation, calling it the prosecution’s way “to accomplish their unreasonable goal to have Slager spend the remainder of his life in prison.” They have also asked for a reduction in his sentence since the nature of the case comes with a “high susceptibility of prison abuse,” they said.
A probation officer recommended a prison term between 10 and nearly 13 years, the Post and Courier reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.