We reported yesterday that Ex-South Carolina police officer Michael Slager has been sentenced to 19 to 24 years in prison for killing 50-year-old unarmed black man Walter Scott in 2015.

It is now being reported by AP that the video of the killing played a key role in getting such a strict sentencing. 

The video was viewed millions of times around the world. An unarmed black man ran from a white officer, who shot him five times in the back. Per usual, Slager tried to claim self-defense. However, this time, that claim could not stand. 

That's how the question began being posed: would Michael Slager have received such a stiff sentence without the video?

“Of course not,” Chris Stewart, an attorney for Scott’s family, said Thursday. “You can’t believe the initial narrative. Investigate.”

If there wasn't a video, Slager's claim of feeling threatened and afraid may have had a chance. However, the images set off protests across the country. Many demonstrators said it was another egregious example of police officers mistreating African Americans. It's not the first time video footage of police brutality has been captured, and the video is proof of what we've argued for years. Many white officers too often use deadly force unnecessarily against black people.

With conviction being a rarity in cases such as these, an officer actually facing prison time is even more shocking. South Carolina has been aggressive in charging white officers who shoot unarmed black people. Four have pleaded guilty in state or federal court in the past six years. But only Slager and former state trooper Sean Groubert, who shot a man as he tried to get his wallet during a seat-belt-violation check, will have been sent to prison. Groubert was sentenced to five years behind bars. 

Slager’s attorneys have continued to reiterate his self-defense claim, saying race didn’t play a role in the shooting and Slager never had any “racial animus” toward minorities. But the officer in May pleaded guilty to federal civil rights violations, with prosecutors agreeing to drop state murder charges.