Per NBC News, one juror wrote a letter to the court stating that he could not consider a guilty verdict against the ex-officer, Michael Slager. This white patrolman pulled over Walter Scott in North Charleston and shot him as a bystander recorded the entire incident on his smartphone.
The jury wrote a separate note to the court stating that there was one juror having issues, and the juror said that he would not change his mind and vote guilty. Therefore, Circuit Judge Clifton Newman had no choice but to declare a mistrial.
Slager now leaves the courtroom because the 12 jurors could not agree. He will, however, be quickly retried, per The Huffington Post.
If Slager had been a civilian that shot Scott, he would have spent the rest of his life in prison for shooting and killing someone who was unarmed. However, Slager was a police officer; therefore, they can use lethal force, but sometimes it is not justified. There have been only three police officers in the past decade that have ever been charged with manslaughter or murder, but none of them were convicted.
High-Profile Case Brings to Light a Growing Issue
The Black Lives Matter movement has been gaining momentum, especially as the media continues to cover more stories of officers shooting unarmed or “threatening” civilians.
This is the second time a mistrial was declared in a case where an officer faces murder charges, says The Washington Post. In fact, a similar outcome happened in November for an officer in Ohio. Like the prosecutors in Ohio, the ones in South Carolina vowed to refile and try the officer again for the murder.
When the mistrial was declared, the judge did not say if the holdout was the single juror; however, that single juror was highlighted in other news stories and specifically mentioned by jurors on the case for refusing to change his mind and convict the officer.
The Gruesome Murder Caught on Tape
The entire accident and murder were caught on tape. In the recording, which was made by a bystander, the 50-year old Walter Scott was fleeing from Slager when he was shot in the back. Slager said that he feared for his life after the protests that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri. After local officials had filed charges against him, a local activist group had made it clear they did not want this situation to turn into another Ferguson-like event.
After Scott was pulled over, footage showed on Slager’s dashboard camera that the two men were interacting before Scott starts to run away. Over the radio, Slager is heard calling in a description of the man before saying “Taser” over and over.
The video from the bystander shows Scott running and the officer firing on him. In Slager’s murder trial, his word was put against that of the video footage. However, the officer describes his own fears before the bystander’s video began.