Crime

Mistrial Declared In Walter Scott Murder Case

| by Lauren Briggs

A judge in Charleston, South Carolina, declared a mistrial in the murder case of Walter Scott, after jurors said they were not able to come to a unanimous verdict over the course of several days.

Police Officer Michael Slager will be tried again for the 2015 killing of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man whom Slager shot in the back while Scott ran away, prosecutor Scarlett Wilson said. For the moment, he will walk free, reports CNN.

"We as the jury regret to inform the court that despite the best efforts of all members we are unable to come to a unanimous decision," the jury told the Judge Clifton Newman on Dec. 5, after informing the court three days earlier they were deadlocked 11 to 1, with one juror steadfast in a decision not to convict Slager, while the rest supported a guilty verdict for either murder or manslaughter.

The trial lasted for five weeks, as the court heard arguments that largely centered around a cellphone video showing Slager shooting Scott five times in the back following a chase and struggle between the two.

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The pair were roughly 18 feet away from each other when Slager fired the shots, prosecutors said. Slager said he was defending himself and found Scott to pose a threat, with the potential to turn around and charge at him.

If convicted of murder, Slager faces a sentence of 30 years to life. In the event of a manslaughter conviction, Slager would be behind bars for up to 30 years.

After the mistrial declaration, some African-American city residents said that they were disheartened by the news.

"We never see a win," pastor and activist Thomas Dixon told WCIV, notes CNN. "Our people need to get something in the win column when it comes to these officer-involved shootings. I don't believe justice was served today."

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Despite the news, Scott's family left the courthouse upbeat, saying that there will be another trial in addition to an upcoming federal one and that they will lean on their religious faith until that time, reports The Daily Beast.

"If you thought we were going to come out crying, weeping weak, then you don't know the Scott family," said the Scotts' attorney Chris Sewart. "That was Round One ... [Slager] may have delayed justice but he did not escape it." 

Sources: CNN, The Daily Beast / Photo credit: Whpq/Wikimedia Commons

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