More time and a better explanation of the law wasn’t enough for one juror in the trial of former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager to change his mind and join the others in a unanimous verdict.
The 12-member jury told Judge Clifton Newman Monday that they are hopelessly deadlocked in the matter. Newman responded by declaring a mistrial.
Slager was put up on murder and manslaughter charges — the jury could have convicted him on either — but in the end it was one holdout juror who refused to settle on anything but an acquittal for the former North Charleston officer.
“I cannot in good conscience consider a guilty verdict,” the holdout member said in a note to the judge on Friday, WCSC-TV reported. “I expect those who hold opposing views to change their minds because I see them as good, honest people, therefore I regret to say we may never reach an unanimous decision.
“We all struggle with the death of a man and with all that has been put before us. I still cannot, without a reasonable doubt convict the defendant. At the same time, my heart does not want to have to tell the Scott family that the man that killed their son, brother and father is innocent. But with the choices, I cannot and will not change my mind.”
The jury foreperson told the judge Friday that a unanimous verdict was possible with more time and clarification of the difference between murder and voluntary manslaughter — indicating that any conviction would probably have been for the latter charge.
The foreperson also told Newman that the holdout juror “needs to leave” because “he is having issues.”
Prosecutors and Slager’s defense both initially agreed to send the panel back for further deliberation. Slager’s attorney later filed for a mistrial, but the jury was sent back into deliberations.
Monday, the jury informed Newman they had made no progress.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether prosecutors will retry Slager, but it’s likely — considering the fact that it appears they were just one vote short of a conviction.
Slager, 35, was charged last year in the shooting death of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man who was shot multiple times in the back as he attempted to run away from a traffic stop in April 2015.
Defense lawyers argued that Scott had taken Slager’s stun gun during the confrontation and the officer feared for his safety. Cellphone video taken by a witness, though, brought that claim into question.
Ultimately fired by the police department, Slager faced between two years and life in prison, depending on the charge. Now he will await the district attorney’s decision on whether a new trial is coming.
However, Slager still faces a federal civil rights trial that could also send him to prison for life.
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