CRIME

Outrage After Juror Says He Can’t Convict Cop Who Shot Man In Back

Despite concerns of a possible mistrial, the jury agreed to resume deliberations after the weekend

CRIME
Dec 02, 2016 at 6:33 PM ET

Jurors failed to decide the fate of Michael Slager, the former South Carolina police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man last year, reporting that they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Friday after three days of deliberation. The case made national headlines because a bystander captured disturbing video of the officer shooting the man, Walter Scott, in the back as he ran away.

A lone juror appears to be the only thing keeping Slager from a guilty verdict, with the juror telling that court that he or she “cannot in good conscious consider a guilty verdict,” according to local reporters in the courtroom.

The jury — made up of six white men, five white women, and one black man — sent Judge Clifton Newman a note Friday afternoon saying they “will not be able to come to a consensus.” Newman then encouraged them to continue deliberating. A few hours later, the jury again told the judge they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict but would attempt to continue deliberations. After another attempt, they asked if they could resume after the weekend. The judge agreed, dismissing them until Monday.

There was immediate outrage on Twitter.

In the video clip of Scott’s death, Slager shot Scott three times in the back as he ran away after what Slager claims was a violent struggle. The video also appears to show Slager pick something up off the ground — likely his Taser, prosecutors argued — and then drop it near Scott’s body after the shooting.

According to Slager’s version of events, after Scott was pulled over for having a broken tail light, he began to run. Slager claims to have caught him, leading to a struggle but Scott ran away again. At this point, Slager’s attorneys argued that the officer feared for his life, because he claims Scott had wrestled away the Taser and briefly pointed it at him. Slager pulled out his pistol and fires eight rounds, three of which hit Scott in the back, killing him.

“I was in total fear that Mr. Scott didn’t stop, continued to come towards me,” Slager testified on Tuesday, claiming he knew he was “in trouble” after Scott allegedly got ahold of his Taser.

The video, however, doesn’t appear to show any threat to the officer or the general public after Scott dropped what Slager claims was his Taser and began to run away, prosecutors argued.

Warning: This video contains graphic images and some viewers may find it disturbing. 

“I’m not saying there wasn’t a struggle. Walter Scott did not want to tased; It did not feel good,” prosecutor Scarlett Wilson told jurors during the trial, according to local news reports. “But there’s no evidence he was coming after that man, no evidence of that.”

Scott was killed on April 4, 2015, after a routine traffic stop. Scott, prosecutors argued, feared Slager would see there was a warrant out for his arrest over unpaid child support, which would likely land him in jail. So he ran.

“He picked a sorry way to do it,” Wilson said of Scott’s decision to run to avoid being taken to jail. But, she added, “he should be sitting there right now on trial for resisting arrest.”

Wilson also argued that there was no evidence that Scott ever had possession of Slager’s Taser, noting that the only evidence that he had came from Slager’s testimony. Lawyer’s for Scott’s family believe that Slager then moved the Taser closer to Scott’s body to support his claim that Scott had taken it from him.

Slager’s attorneys said that despite the damning video of their client shooting an unarmed man in the back, it was Scott’s actions that led to his death.

“Mr. Scott was shot because of what he did,” attorney Andy Savage said during the trial. He added that “this is not about a brake light. It’s about the felonious conduct exercised by Mr. Scott.”

Slager also faces a federal indictment for violating Scott’s civil rights and unlawfully using a weapon during the commission of a crime, and obstruction of justice charges for lying to investigators when he claimed Scott was moving towards him with the Taser when he shot him.