The ongoing trial of Michael Slager in the Walter Scott shooting incident ends with a startling verdict.
The judge in the murder trial of former North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer Michael Slager on Monday declared a mistrial after jurors were unable to reach a verdict after four days of deliberations, according to CNN.
Slager, who is white, shot and killed Walter Scott, an unarmed Black man, after a 2015 traffic stop. The Walter Scott shooting was captured on a bystander’s cell phone video, which showed Scott running away as Slager shot him multiple times in the back.
Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson in a statement Monday expressed disappointment but said: “We will try Michael Slager again.”
The jury, which deliberated for 22 hours in the case, had indicated Friday it was deadlocked — a fact that made Monday’s mistrial all the more disappointing for the Scott family.
— Jose Carlos Mattos (@jmattos2001) December 5, 2016
The jurors, 11 white and one African-American, returned three times to deliberate on Friday after telling Judge Clifton Newman they were unable to gain a consensus. In a note, one juror said he couldn’t vote for a conviction and wouldn’t change his mind.
In a statement read by Circuit Judge Clifton Newman, the jury said “We as the jury regret to inform the court” that they were unable to come “to a unanimous decision in the case of the state versus Michael Slager” after a day of questions and deliberation, NBC News reports.
“The court therefore must declare a mistrial in this case and I so declare that is case is mistried,” he said after the jury returned to the room and confirmed their decision.
Scott’s mother, Judy Scott, gave an emotional statement after the verdict, saying she “knows justice will be served.”
“God is my strength and I know without a doubt that he is a just God and injustice will not prevail,” she said.
Scott added that “we have the federal trial and another trail to go — I’m just waiting on the lord, I’m going to rest in the lord.”
“I don’t care how it looks, it’s not over — you all hear me — it’s not over, until God says it’s over,” she said.
The family attorney Chris Stewart said the mistrial in the Walter Scott shooting was a “missed opportunity to heal a lot of wounds in the country” and “to remind the good officers that put on that badge that they aren’t Michael Slager.”
“If you thought that we were going to come out here crying or weeping or weak, you don’t know the Scott family. That was round one — we’ve got two more rounds to go,” he said, adding that solicitor Scarlett Wilson planned to try the case again as soon as she could.
The solicitor also stood in support of the Scott family, adding “We are grateful 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. 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.”
Walter Scott’s brother, Anthony Scott, called on the public to “keep your head high” and protest peacefully.
He added that while he hoped to find peace he could not yet forgive Slager.
“In my heart I will find the peace to forgive Slager for doing that, but in this present time until my family can see justice, no, there’s no forgiveness,” he said.
“I think there was malice and forethought, I think it was murder,” he added.
— BeatsRhymes&Phife (@Villanomics) December 5, 2016
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said in a statement Monday evening that “It is my understanding that there will be, as quickly as possible, a new trial where the Scott family and all of South Carolina will hopefully receive the closure that a verdict brings.”
“Justice is not always immediate, but we must all have faith that it will be served — I certainly do,” she said. “I urge South Carolinians — in Charleston and across our state — to continue along the path we have walked these last two years: a path of grace, faith, love and understanding.”
The jury had remained undecided — but not deadlocked — on Monday in the murder trial.
Slager, 35, was near tears last week when he testified he pulled over Scott’s 1991 Mercedes for a broken tail light on April 4, 2015. Scott, 50, ran away, and Slager said a scuffle ensued after he pursued Scott on foot, The U.S.A. Today states. Slager said Scott attempted to wrest away the officer’s Taser and that he shot Scott out of fear for his own life.
A bystander’s cellphone video, which begins seconds before Slager started shooting, shows Scott fleeing as Slager fires eight shots. Scott was hit three times in the back, once in the buttocks and once on the ear.
@deray You have got to be kidding. We all saw him shoot the man in the back and yet, cannot convict.
— Julie Harris (@sabela13) December 5, 2016
Outside the courthouse, local pastors conducted a prayer vigil while awaiting a verdict. One man held a sign reading “Justice for Walter Scott and his family NOW!”
The outcome of the verdict in the Walter Scott shooting trial isn’t surprising so far as racial bias acts a major influence in the US judicial system. Judges have made it impossible to convict killer cops. There is always one justification or the other to serve as an escape route for criminal cops. This is appalling! An unjust judicial system is what we have in our country.