Mistrial Declared In Case Against South Carolina Cop Who Gunned Down Walter Scott
Despite being a case that should have allowed jurors to come up with a unanimous guilty verdict, those chosen to decide the fate of former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager found themselves deadlocked. Because of this, the case was declared a mistrial.
Late last week, 12 jurors, including 11 White men and one Black man in Charleston, struggled to come to a unanimous decision in the murder trial. Slager was facing between 30 years and a maximum life sentence in the death of Walter Scott, whom he was seen, on video, firing on. Slager shot Scott in the back (as well as the ear and buttocks) as the man ran away from the officer during a traffic stop over a busted tail light. Slager claimed he was fearful during the stop because Scott had a taser on him. However, he was seen placing a taser near Scott’s body after the shooting. Despite the murder charge, according to reports, Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman agreed to let jurors also consider manslaughter. According to USA Today, that charge comes with a lighter sentence of between two and 30 years.
If the jury couldn’t reach a verdict and find him guilty, they would have had to acquit Slager, but either decision would have to be made unanimously. Deliberations began last Wednesday, and according to The Washington Post, one specific juror sent a note to the judge stating that they couldn’t pick a guilty verdict, despite the rest of the jurors doing so. The judge ordered the jurors to take more time to come to a unanimous decision and as of Monday, they still couldn’t do it. It’s unclear if the same juror held out, or if other jurors changed their verdict this time around.
“We as the jury regret to inform the court that despite the best efforts of all members, we are unable to come to a unanimous decision,” the jury stated in a note read by Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman yesterday in the courtroom.
But Scarlett A. Wilson, who is the prosecutor for Charleston County, says her office is ready to follow through with trying Slager again. Slager, who was fired after the release of video of the shooting and free on a $500,000 bond since January, is facing another trial for violating Walter Scott’s rights. He’s also facing facing charges of obstruction of justice and a gun violation in that trial.
As for the family of Walter Scott, who didn’t share outward grief or any outbursts in the courtroom after the mistrial declaration, they said they aren’t sad about the mistrial, but they’re definitely not okay with Monday’s outcome. However, Walter Scott’s mother, Judy Scott, is confident that what is due to her late son and her family will be given in time. “I’m not sad because I know justice will be served,” she said.
Images via YouTube, family photos