Trial of the officer who killed Walter Scott ends in mistrial

After four days of deliberation, a judge declared a mistrial in the case of Michael Slager, a white Charleston police officer who is accused of murder in the death of unarmed black man Walter Scott. Cell phone video shows Slager shooting eight times at Scott as he ran away after a traffic stop for a broken tail light, hitting him in the back three times, killing him.

A prosecutor vowed Monday to retry a white former police officer charged with killing an unarmed black motorist in North Charleston, South Carolina, after the jury failed to reach a verdict following 22 hours of deliberation.

The judge declared a mistrial on the fourth day of deliberations in the murder trial of Michael Slager, the former North Charleston officer.
“We will try Michael Slager again,” 9th Judicial Circuit Solicitor Scarlett A. Wilson said in a statement expressing disappointment that Slager was not convicted in the five-week murder case in state court.

Slager’s attorney, Andy Savage, called upon the Big Black Monster defense to argue that Scott was “out of control” and fought Slager with “unusual strength.” In his testimony, Slager said he didn’t remember why he picked up his Taser, which had come loose in the struggle, and dropped it next to Scott’s body in a move that looked an awful lot like planting evidence but we’ll never know because Slager’s “mind was like spaghetti.”

The mistrial was due to a failure of the jury to reach a unanimous decision. Jury foreman Dorsey Montgomery, the only black man on the jury, said in an interview that he originally was inclined to vote for conviction, but that after looking at the evidence he believed that, lacking malice aforethought, Slager was actually guilty of voluntary manslaughter. (Montgomery also said that reports that the jury was deadlocked 11 to one weren’t completely accurate; he says that while one man refused to vote to convict based on “his convictions,” five others remained undecided going into the weekend.)

As voluntary manslaughter was offered as a lesser included offense, there’s no telling why Slager wasn’t convicted of that charge. One can assume that the lone juror who resolutely refused to convict was somehow involved, but we all know what happens when you assume.

For instance, Michael Slager saw a black man and assumed that, unarmed and retreating, Walter Scott was a dangerous and monstrous threat such that he needed to die, and look what happened. Or if we assume that if all of this wasn’t enough to hold a white cop accountable for killing an unarmed black man, nothing ever will be… well, we probably won’t end up surprised.


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