A South Carolina jury couldn't decide whether to convict a white former police chief who fatally shot an unarmed black man in a case that was viewed as more about the perils of small-town policing than the racial divide that has marked other controversial police shootings, the Los Angeles Times reports. An Orangeburg County jury deliberated for 12 hours ending after midnight yesterday when a judge accepted that it was deadlocked over the fate of former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs in the shooting of Bernard Bailey in 2011.
Prosecutors will decide whether to retry the case. Bailey's relatives said they would continue to seek a conviction. The shooting is among a series of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police nationwide. Grand juries in Ferguson, Mo., and New York’s Staten Island decided not to charge white officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The trial of Combs, who was police chief in a county with a large African American population, has not carried the same type of racial overtones as did the other cases. Instead, it has raised questions about the problems associated with policing in small towns. “It was a stupid tragedy — nothing to do with black or white,” Cynthia Nutt, a white local store owner.