Mistrial Declared for SC Cop Charged in Walter Scott's Death

Jury can't come to a decision in Michael Slager murder trial after 4 days of deliberating
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 5, 2016 3:20 PM CST
Mistrial Declared for SC Cop Charged in Walter Scott's Death
Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager testifies during his murder trial at the Charleston County court in Charleston, SC, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Slager is charged with murder in the death last year of Walter Scott.   (Grace Beahm/Post and Courier via AP, Pool)

South Carolina Circuit Judge Clifton Newman declared a mistrial after a jury said it could not reach a verdict after four days of deliberation in the murder trial of a white police officer charged in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist, reports the AP. Former patrolman Michael Slager was charged with murder in the April 2015 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 shocked the country, inflaming the national debate about how blacks are treated by police. After the video went public, Slager was fired and charged with murder. Scott's family called for peace in North Charleston, calls for calm believed to have helped prevent the violence that erupted elsewhere when black men were killed by law enforcement.

Scott was pulled for a broken taillight and then fled his 1990 Mercedes, running into a vacant lot. Family 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 pointed it at the officer before the shooting. The defense also contended there was no way Slager could tell if Scott was armed. Much testimony centered on the cellphone video, which at times was blurry and shaky. The jurors saw the video numerous times, including several times frame by frame. Last year, North Charleston reached a $6.5 million civil settlement with Scott's family. Slager faces trial next year on federal charges of depriving Scott of his civil rights. (More Michael Slager stories.)

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