On the brink of hopelessness that their deliberations would end without a verdict, jurors stepped back from their impasse Friday, resolving to discuss further whether white North Charleston, S.C., officer Slager committed a crime when he fatally shot Walter Scott, a black man, reports the Charleston Post and Courier. They sent notes to the judge throughout the afternoon, saying they were deadlocked. Their messages pointed to a lone holdout, a juror who refused to convict Slager of either murder or manslaughter. There are 11 other jurors. The jury’s other option is acquittal. The decision must be unanimous. But through nearly 18 hours of deliberations, they still had not found one. The judge was prepared to declare a hung jury and order a mistrial.
Their desperation was apparent, as the holdout wrote to the judge, sidestepping the usual procedure that tasks the jury’s foreman with such communication. The resulting letter was a rare look into the closed-door workings of a jury grappling with a case that the whole world is watching. “I regret to say we may never reach a unanimous decision,” the holdout juror wrote. “We all struggle with the death of a man,” the juror wrote. “My heart does not want to have to tell the Scott family that the man who killed their son, brother and father is innocent. But with choices, I cannot and will not change my mind.” Exhausted, jurors chose to return Monday and start fresh with a weekend of rest.