Former police officer Michael Slager was caught on video shooting Walter Scott in the back five times from behind after a traffic stop led to a foot chase. At the time of the incident, Slager radioed that Scott “grabbed [his] taser” six seconds after opening fire and before there was any knowledge that he had been filmed. He claims he shot the father of four as he was running away because he was in “total fear” for his life. According to prosecutors, the two men were 18 feet apart from each other when Slager opened fire.
During his testimony, Slager denied deliberately planting evidence but was “unable to remember” why the video of the incident shows him placing his taser near Scott’s dead body after the shooting.
Despite being permitted by the judge to consider a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, the jury was unable to come to a unanimous decision. Circuit Judge Clifton Newman rejected the juror’s initial request for a mistrial after one of the male jurors wrote the judge a note last week, stating, “I still cannot without a reasonable doubt convict the defendant. I cannot and will not change my mind.”
The jurors had several questions for the judge during deliberations, seeking a clear distinction between “fear” and “passion” and “if the self-defense standard is the same for a police officer as it is for other people.”
Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson paid tribute to Walter Scott’s parents and thanked the jury in a heartfelt address after the mistrial was declared, stating, “We will try Michael Slager again.”
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