Democracy Dies in Darkness

Inspired Life

'Forgiveness is in my heart,' a bereaved mother told the officer who shot her son in the back

By Lindsey Bever

December 7, 2017 at 3:49 PM

Judy Scott speaks to reporters on April 8, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

Not long after Judy Scott’s son was shot and killed by police — days, in fact, after Walter Scott was gunned down by Officer Michael Slager in South Carolina, ending one life, changing others forever and further inflaming a furious debate over policing and race — the grieving mother expressed no anger.

No hatred.

No rage.

Instead, she expressed forgiveness.

“I’m supposed to be really angry and upset and raging and all that but I can’t — because of the love of God in me, I can’t be like that,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I feel forgiveness in my heart, even for the guy that shot and killed my son.”

Her words, on April 8, 2015, came just days after Slager fired numerous shots at her 50-year-old son, Walter, an unarmed black man who was struck in the back as he ran from Slager, a white North Charleston police officer.

Cellphone video showed the moment Slager opened fire. It also showed Scott’s collapse amid a barrage of gunshots.

“Put your hands behind your back now,” Slager yelled, before handcuffing Scott and leaving him on the ground.

Scott was pronounced dead at the scene.

Slager, who was terminated from the force, was charged with murder in state court and indicted on civil rights charges in federal court.

As The Washington Post’s Mark Berman reported, Slager’s state trial ended last year in a deadlocked jury. In May, Slager accepted a plea deal, pleading guilty in federal court to violating Scott’s civil rights.

On Thursday, in a courtroom in Charleston, a federal judge prepared to announce Slager’s fate.

Judy Scott, however, had no judgments of her own to make.

Instead, she expressed forgiveness again — this time, addressing Slager directly.

“I forgive Michael Slager. I forgive you. Forgiveness is in my heart,” the bereaved mother said, according to the Associated Press. “I pray for you, that you would repent and let Jesus come into your life.”

Related: [Former South Carolina police officer who shot Walter Scott sentenced to 20 years]

U.S. District Judge David Norton ruled Thursday that the shooting constituted second-degree murder and that Slager’s actions afterward constituted obstruction of justice, according to the Justice Department.

Judy Scott (center) is comforted by her son, Rodney, as the family attorneys hold a news conference in Charleston, S.C. (Mic Smith/AP)

The judge sentenced Slager, 36, to 20 years behind bars.

In court, Scott’s brother, Anthony, also addressed the former officer.

He, too, said he forgave.

“I’m not angry at you, Michael. Michael, I forgive you, and Michael, I do pray for you now and for your family, because we’ve gone through a traumatic time,”  Scott said, according to the AP.

Related: [South Carolina killing of Walter Scott leaves two mothers grieving and praying]

Walter Scott had fled from Slager during a traffic stop in April 2015.

Police said after the shooting that Slager tried to used a stun gun to stop Scott but that Scott struggled with the officer over the weapon. So, authorities said at the time, Slager drew his firearm and shot Scott.

But video from a bystander emerged, appearing to show the two men making physical contact. Scott then ran and Slager pulled his weapon, firing eight shots at Scott’s back as he ran farther and farther away.

Scott then slumped to the ground, facedown.

The video also showed Slager picking up the stun gun and dropping it near Scott’s body.

Slager has argued that he was simply securing his weapon.

“He’s got to get convicted and I believe since God moves so fast, the God I serve is able,” Judy Scott told CNN in 2015. “I know God will make a way; God will fix it.”

Watch more!
The family of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was fatally shot by a white South Carolina police officer, said they've finally received justice after the officer, Michael Slager, was sentenced on Dec. 7 to 20 years in federal prison. (Reuters)

Read more:

‘I have this thing called autism’: A boy’s eloquent message to his fourth-grade classmates

Albuquerque police officer adopts a homeless heroin addict’s baby after a chance on-duty encounter

This student left college to help his dying childhood friend complete his bucket list


Lindsey Bever is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

Post Recommends
Outbrain

You obviously love great journalism.

With special savings on our Basic Digital package, you’ll never miss a single story again.

Already a subscriber?

Secure & Encrypted