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A police officer who was filmed shooting an unarmed and fleeing African-American man in the back will have 20 years in prison to think about it.

Michael Slager shot and killed Walter Scott during a traffic stop in 2015. After Slager pulled him over for a nonfunctioning brake light, Scott tried to run away, apparently because he feared being arrested on an outstanding warrant for not making child support payments. After a brief chase, Slager pulled his gun and shot Scott in the back five times.

Slager also was filmed putting his Taser near Scott's body to support his story that he had fired his handgun after the dead man tried to grab the Taser.

Slager was facing both a retrial in state court (the first trial in 2016 ended in a hung jury) and charges in federal court of violating Scott's civil rights. He pleaded guilty to the federal charge, saving himself from seeing the case retried at the state level.

Considering how many of these high-profile, officer-involved killings of unarmed black men have resulted in acquittals in the last few years, seeing one end with a guilty plea and a prison sentence is somewhat shocking. Maybe someday, it won't be.

Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.

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