NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. – The murder trial of former police officer Michael Slager has ended in a mistrial.
The jury remained deadlocked in the controversial case that occurred last year in South Carolina. They even considered the lesser offense of voluntary manslaughter. But the jury wrote in its final note: “Despite best efforts, we were unable to come to a unanimous decision.” As a result, Circuit Judge Clifton Newman declared a mistrial yesterday.
Slager stopped black motorist, Walter Scott, for a traffic related offense April 4, 2015. During a brief detention, Scott fled on foot. Slager gave chase and caught Scott. The two struggled over Slager’s Taser. Eventually, Scott broke free as a bystander began to record the encounter. It was at that point that Slager shot Scott in the back, killing him.
You can read more analysis of the incident with this report by LET.
During Slager’s five-week trial, he argued that he feared for his life when 50-year-old Walter Scott gained control of his Taser and pointed it at him. These words were recorded during his testimony.
It’s the second time in recent weeks a jury has deadlocked in an officer-involved shooting. A mistrial was declared Nov. 12 when a jury in Cincinnati couldn’t reach a verdict in the case of a former campus police officer Ray Tensing who was also charged with shooting a black motorist.
Last Friday it appears a single juror stood in the way of a verdict. That juror sent a letter to Judge Newman saying that he could not “with good conscience approve a guilty verdict.”
Deliberations continued, and apparently things changed drastically. Monday, jurors sent a note to the judge indicating that “the majority” was still undecided on a verdict, eventually leading to the judge’s decision for mistrial.
Last year, the city of North Charleston reached a $6.5 million civil settlement with Scott’s family.
Slager also faces trial next year in federal court on civil rights violations.