Daniella Silva, NBC News, December 5, 2016
A judge declared a mistrial Monday afternoon in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man at the hands of a South Carolina former patrolman, after the jury said they could not come to a unanimous verdict.
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.
“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 family attorney Chris Stewart said the mistrial 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 jury had remained undecided–but not deadlocked–on Monday in the murder trial.
The defense in ex-patrolman Michael Slager’s five-week trial claimed that he feared for his life when 50-year-old Walter Scott got control of the officer’s stun gun and pointed it at him.
But Scott was shot five times in the back while running from Slager during a routine traffic stop.
Slager was fired from the North Charleston police department after his confrontation with Scott on April 4, 2015 led to Scott’s death.
Slager had been charged with murder in Scott’s killing, although the jury was also allowed to consider a lesser verdict of manslaughter. He had faced 30 years to life in prison if convicted.
Slager also faces trial next year in federal court on charges of violating civil rights laws, obstruction of justice and using a firearm while committing a act of violence.