United States v. Slager (P)

A former police officer who pleaded guilty to killing Walter Scott, unarmed and fleeing, now challenges the district court’s 240-month prison sentence. This court finds the sentence was proper.

The district court did not err in using second-degree murder as the sentencing cross-reference for the offense, rather than voluntary manslaughter. This conclusion was supported by the court’s reasonable credibility determinations and the defendant’s voluntary, intentional, and repeated discharge of his firearm at the victim as he attempted to run away.

The district court also did not err in applying a two-level sentence enhancement for obstruction of justice. Section 3C1.1 of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines does not clearly answer whether an attempt to significantly obstruct an investigation through unsworn statements warrants the enhancement. Nor has this court’s precedent provided an “obvious” or “clear” answer to that question. In such circumstances, the defendant cannot meet his burden to show that the district court plainly erred by applying the enhancement.


United States v. Slager (P), No. 18-4036, Jan. 8, 2019. 4th Cir. (Wynn) from DSC at Charleston (Norton).

Categories: 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Opinions, Published


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