Jury to continue deliberating in ex-South Carolina cop's murder trial
Jury to continue deliberating in ex-South Carolina cop's murder trial
22 hrs ago
CBS News Deadlocked S.C. jury to resume deliberations Monday over ex-officer's shooting of black man
CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - Jurors weighing a murder charge against a white South Carolina former police officer who shot and killed a fleeing black motorist last year will resume their deliberations on Monday after struggling to reach a unanimous verdict.
Jurors twice told a state judge on Friday, their third day of deliberations, that they were deadlocked in the case against ex-North Charleston patrolman Michael Slager, 35. His shooting of 50-year-old Walter Scott after an April 2015 traffic stop was captured in a bystander's cellphone video and intensified debate in the United States over racial bias by police.
The jury foreman said one member of the 12-person panel disagreed with the rest. But jurors later said further deliberation could prove fruitful if the judge provided more explanation of the law.
"I cannot in good conscience consider a guilty verdict," the holdout juror told Judge Clifton Newman in a note, adding, "At the same time, my heart does not want to tell the Scott family that the man who killed their son, brother and father is innocent."
Jurors first indicated they were unable to reach a consensus Friday afternoon.
The judge at that point said they had a duty "to make every reasonable effort to reach a unanimous verdict" and instructed them to continue their deliberations.
Newman said he would declare a mistrial if no verdict was reached and retry the case later with a different jury.
Last year, two juries deadlocked on a murder charge against a white former Eutawville, South Carolina, police chief accused of killing a black man in 2011 after an argument about a traffic ticket issued to the man's daughter.
Prosecutors charged Slager with murder, but jurors also had the option of finding him guilty of voluntary manslaughter if they decided Slager killed Scott in the heat of passion after provocation rather than with malice.
Or they could acquit the former officer if they believed he acted in self-defense.
The jury of 11 white people and one black person heard four weeks of testimony from more than 50 witnesses.
Prosecutors repeatedly showed the video in court and said the footage proved Slager was not in danger when he fired eight shots at the fleeing Scott, hitting him with five bullets.
But Slager said he did not know at the time that Scott was unarmed. The ex-cop testified he felt "total fear" after the motorist grabbed his stun gun during a scuffle between the two men.
Mistrial declared in black motorist's shooting
Associated Press Associated Press
BRUCE SMITH and SEANNA ADCOX
3 hrs ago
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina judge declared a mistrial Monday after a jury deadlocked in the murder trial of a white, former police officer charged in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist.
A panel of one black and 11 white jurors — who had seemed close to a verdict to convict on Friday, with apparently only one holdout — said Monday they were unable to reach a unanimous decision after deliberating more than 22 hours over four days.
"We as a jury regret to inform the court that despite the best efforts of all parties we are unable to come to a unanimous decision," said Circuit Judge Clifton Newman, reading a note from the jury before declaring a mistrial.
Former patrolman Michael Slager was charged with murder in the April 4, 2015 shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott. The judge had said the jury could also consider a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Cellphone video showing taken by a bystander that showed Scott being shot in the back five times was shown widely in the media and on the internet and shocked the country, inflaming the national debate about how blacks are treated by law enforcement officers.
After the video went public, Slager was fired by the police department and charged with murder. Scott's family called for peace in the North Charleston community. Their calls for calm are believed to have helped prevent the kind of violence that erupted elsewhere when black men were killed in encounters with law enforcement.
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 who was also charged with shooting a black motorist.
The video in the Scott slaying renewed debate over how blacks are treated by white law officers. There have been similar debates over race and policing in places from New York to Ferguson, Missouri and from Tulsa, Oklahoma to North Carolina.
Slager's wife, Jamie, cried after the jurors were dismissed and briefly put her head on the bench in front of her. She said "thank you for everything" to the defense lawyers as they left the courtroom. She did not respond when reporters asked if she wanted to comment.
One female juror wiped away tears with her hands and a tissue as the attorneys addressed them and thanked them for their hours of work.
There were no outbursts in the courtroom, and Scott family attorney Justin Bamberg said no one from the family wanted to speak for now.
Slager also faces trial next year in federal court on charges of depriving Scott of his civil rights.
Dimitri Ford, from North Charleston, holds a sign supporting the Scott family during a prayer vigil in front of the Charleston County Courthouse as the jury deliberates in the Michael Slager trial Monday, Dec. 5, 2016, in Charleston, S.C. Slager, the former North Charleston police officer is charged with murder in the shooting death last year of Walter Scott.© AP Photo/Mic Smith Dimitri Ford, from North Charleston, holds a sign supporting the Scott family during a prayer vigil in front of the Charleston County Courthouse as the jury deliberates in the Michael…
While Slager is white and Scott was black, the video, not the races of the men, dominated the trial.
Scott was pulled in North Charleston for having a broken taillight on his 1990 Mercedes and then fled the car, running into a vacant lot. Family members have said he may have run because he was worried about going to jail because he was $18,000 behind on child support.
The prosecution argued that the 35-year-old Slager let his sense of authority get the better of him.
The defense maintained that the two men wrestled on the ground, that Scott got control of Slager's stun gun and then pointed the weapon at the 35-year-old officer before the shooting. The defense also contended there was no way the officer could tell if Scott was unarmed.
Much of the testimony centered on the cellphone video, which at times was blurry and shaky. The jurors saw it video numerous times, including several times frame by frame.
The defense contended that there was much more to the case than the brief video clip that was seen worldwide.
They focused their case on the seconds before the shooting that were not captured on the cellphone video, which was taken by a barber who passed the scene walking to work.
Slager took the stand and testified that Scott wrestled with him and grabbed his Taser and came at him with it. He said he was in "total fear" at the time he fired his gun.
"At that point I pulled my firearm and pulled the trigger," he testified. "I fired until the threat was stopped as I was trained to do."
Slager, who was five-year veteran of the department, also expressed regret over the whole incident.
"My family has been destroyed by it. The Scott family has been destroyed by it. It's horrible," he said.
Last year, the city of North Charleston reached a $6.5 million civil settlement with Scott's family. In the wake of the shooting, the city also asked that the U.S. Justice Department conduct a review of its police department policies with an eye toward how the department can improve its relationship with residents.
Are you fucking kidding me?
HE SHOT HIM IN THE FUCKING BACK!!!