Can former police officer Michael Slager’s 20-year sentence deter other killings?

POST AND COURIER, 10 DECEMBER, 2017, FEAT. PROF. SETH STOUGHTON:

While Michael Slager’s 20-year sentence has been viewed as a warning to other police officers faced with using their firearms in the line of duty, some observers doubt the lasting influence of a particularly stark example of excessive force like Walter Scott’s death.

Scott was shot as he ran from a confrontation with the North Charleston policeman in 2015, when South Carolina saw its highest annual level of officer-involved shootings on record. After a dip last year as authorities focused on accountability measures like body-worn cameras, that number has spiked again to at least 47 so far this year — one shy of the record.

While such a trend can be difficult to explain, experts said the concept of a single criminal case influencing it is troublesome.

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