For a dozen times over the past month, jurors watched a video of North Charleston, S.C., police officer Michael Slager fatally shooting Walter Scott as the black man ran away, but they could not agree whether the lawman had committed a crime. Declaring a hung jury, a judge ordered a mistrial for Slager, the patrolman who fired eight gunshots in 2.7 seconds of video footage that became a lasting image amid a national inspection of police uses of force, reports the Charleston Post and Courier. It brought to a close a month-long murder trial that laid bare alleged shortcomings in the training of law enforcement officers and in the way police-involved deaths are investigated in South Carolina.
An inkling that only one juror had refused to vote for a conviction had buoyed hopes among prosecutors and Scott’s family, but they were all but dashed yesterday when the panel said a majority of its members remained undecided. The jury had three options for Slager: convictions for murder or voluntary manslaughter, or an acquittal. Its indecision does not end the case: prosecutor Scarlett Wilson vowed to try Slager, 35, again, and to coordinate with federal authorities, who had put their separate civil rights case against Slager on hold until the state trial’s resolution. “I wish y’all could be the one,” Wilson told the jury. “But there will be another day.” Slager, who had told jurors his side of the story, will remain free on bail through the holidays.