Source: Charleston Chronicle

I wasn’t prepared to hear the news that Michael Slager, the police officer who shot and killed Walter Scott, would have to spend 20 years in prison for depriving him of his civil rights. His sentencing in federal court last month was unusual at best. As we’ve seen time and again, even the most egregious forms of police brutality tend to go unpunished.

Maybe I’ve gotten a little cynical. As a community organizer, I’ve seen first-hand how police violence can wreck families and whole communities, leaving them with little recourse against the perpetrators. By the time the courts speak, if they speak at all, distrust in the justice system runs deep.

When Slager faced the courts of South Carolina, I was there supporting members of the North Charleston community as they sat through a state trial that everyone thought was a slam dunk: With our own eyes, we all saw the moment, captured on video, when Slager in cold blood shot Scott several times in the back as he fled in fear.

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