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Published On: Thu, Dec 8th, 2016

Jury deadlocked, mistrial in Walter Scott shooting death, Michael Slager ‘free’

A jury deadlocked Monday in the case of a former South Carolina police officer charged with murder after he was recorded on video last year firing bullets at the back of Walter Scott, a fleeing driver, in one of the most shocking shootings in recent times.

Michael Slager, the former officer, thanked the jurors for their effort in the case. Several jurors wiped tears from their eyes as Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman made his announcement following more than 20 hours of deliberations.

“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 wrote in a note that Newman read aloud in the courtroom.

 

Michael Slager South Carolina police officer shoots Walter ScottNewman declared a mistrial shortly before 3:40 p.m. and thanked the jurors for their “hard work in trying to reach a unanimous verdict in this case.”

Prosecutors in South Carolina vowed to seek another trial for Slager.

Scott, a black man, stopped by Officer Slager’s for a traffic infraction, is seen in the dashcam video conversing with Scott inside the vehicle and returns to his police car. Scott steps out of the vehicle and then returns after Slager instructs him to do so.

Seconds later Scott takes off running. Off screen, the chase can be heard, Officer Slager giving details to dispatch and the chase is out of sight. A second video caught with cell phone shows Slager opening fire, shooting Scott in the back.

Slager told the jury that he had been consumed by “total fear” in the moments before he opened fire on Scott.

“I see him with a Taser in his hand as I see him spinning around…That’s the only thing I see: that Taser in his hand.”

“I pulled my firearm, and I pulled the trigger,” Slager recounted, confessing that he suffered from nightmares after the shooting. “I fired until the threat was stopped, like I’m trained to do.”

Scott had a long court record, often for failure to pay child support or to show up for court hearings, and his survivors have speculated that he might have fled because of a pending warrant.

When he declared the mistrial, Newman did not say whether the deadlock came down to a sole holdout. The jury of 11 white people and one black man in Charleston began deliberating Wednesday and seemed on the verge of a deadlock by Friday, when a juror sent a note saying they could not pick a guilty verdict. Jurors then asked to take the weekend off and resume deliberations Monday morning.

About the Author

- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at [email protected] ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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