After a mistrial was declared today, prosecutors vowed to retry a former South Carolina police officer videotaped shooting an unarmed fleeing man in the back in April 2015.
According to the Charleston Post and Courier, as court recessed last week the jury indicated that one out of the 12 had “issues” and would not convict former North Charleston officer Michael Slager. Today, the jury told the judge that most were undecided. They had deliberated for 22 hours.
They had the options to unanimously agree on a murder conviction, voluntary manslaughter or acquittal. They sent the judge various questions about imminent danger, self-defense and the definitions of murder and manslaughter.
The former officer, who was fired from the department after the killing, said that Scott, who had been pulled over for a broken taillight and fled, grabbed his Taser and was threatening his life when he fired. A bystander captured video, though, of Scott running away from the officer across a grassy lot. The officer fired eight shots at Scott’s back from a distance of 18 feet. Five bullets struck Scott.
South Carolina Ninth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson thanked the Scott family “for their patience, understanding and cooperation with us.”
“They have not received the credit they deserve in their calm leadership for the community. The Scotts have been a sterling example of dignity and grace in extraordinary circumstances,” Wilson said in a statement. “This is a very difficult time for them but I have no doubt that they will continue to support our efforts to find justice for this case. I have no doubt that they will continue to show their faith in the criminal justice system.”
“While I cannot overstate our disappointment that this case was not resolved, I commend those who sacrificed so much time, energy and effort to serve on this jury. We will try Michael Slager again. We hope the federal and state courts will coordinate efforts regarding any future trial dates but we stand ready whenever the court calls.”
In addition to facing a murder charge in state court, Slager also faces a trio of federal charges.
In May, a federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment against Slager including a federal civil rights offense, using a firearm during the commission of the civil rights offense and obstruction of justice. On those charges, the former officer could face life in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
Federal prosecutors allege that not only did Slager use excessive force when he killed Scott, but then lied to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigators about what happened, claiming that Scott was charging toward him with a Taser when he fired instead of running away.
Outside of court, the Scott family appealed for calm and patience.
“He will get his just reward,” Walter’s mother, Judy Scott, said. “I’m just waiting on the Lord.”
Tweeted the family’s attorney:
— Justin Bamberg, Esq. (@JustinBamberg) December 6, 2016