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Judge Declares Mistrial in Slager Case

Photo courtesy of Grace Beam/Post and Courier via Pool

The five-week trial of a former North Charleston police officer ended in a mistrial after the jury deadlocked.  This comes after four days and twenty-two hours of deliberation.  

35-year old Michael Slager was charged with murder after he fired eight shots at 50-year-old Walter Scott as he ran in. Slager had pulled Scott over for a broken brake light in April 2015. The incident was captured on cell phone video that shocked the nation. 

Throughout deliberations, jurors returned frequently to the courtroom with questions. Once to have explained the legal differences between fear and passion, another murder and manslaughter. Late Monday afternoon, the jury gave Judge Newman a note that ended the deliberations.

"I received a note that says 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," he said. 

With a hung jury, the judge had no choice but to declare a mistrial. The Scott family left the court room in silence. Later, they said the result was a setback, but the fight for justice was not over. Anthony Scott, Walter's brother, said the jury had all the evidence to convict. 

“I think they had everything they needed all they had to do was make a decision. And like the lawyer said, they had a problem with interpretation of the law," he said. "I think that’s what it was because all of us know that was murder."

After the mistrial declaration, the lead prosecutor asked the jury to give her feedback for when she retries Slager. She was visibly choked up. Slager's defense attorney told jurors they helped preserve the rule of law.

In a statement, Governor Nikki Haley later said, "Justice is not always immediate, but we must all have faith that it will be served - I certainly do. I urge South Carolinians - in Charleston and across our state - to continue along the path we have walked these last two years: a path of grace, faith, love and understanding. That is who we are, and who I know we will continue to be."

Slager still faces charges in federal civil rights charges.