The trial of the former police officer who shot dead Walter Scott, an unarmed African American, in an incident that was caught on cellphone video and reignited the debate on race and policing in the US, has ended in a mistrial.
Michael Slager, 35, was caught on film shooting Scott, 50, five times from behind after pursuing the father of four when he fled a traffic stop in South Carolina in April 2015. The video filmed by a witness, which propelled the case into the global spotlight, showed Scott was running away with his back turned when Slager, then an officer with the North Charleston police department, opened fire.
The jury of 11 white people and one black person was unable to reach a unanimous decision on the murder and manslaughter charges, meaning the case resulted in a mistrial. The result appears to have hung on the opinion of single juror who, on Friday, indicated in a note to the judge, Clifton Newman, that they could not “with good conscience consider a guilty verdict”.
The jury’s foreperson had pushed deliberations into a fourth day, after tense scenes in court on Friday, allowing jurors a weekend break after a monthlong trial.
State solicitor Scarlett Wilson said in a statement she would retry the case “whenever the court calls”.
Slager has also been indicted on federal civil rights charges that carry a maximum sentence of life, but the failure to reach a decision in this state murder trial will probably be seen as a stinging blow to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has campaigned doggedly for police reform and equal justice.