Jury Simply Can't Agree Whether Cop Shooting Unarmed Black Man In Back, On Video, Is Really Murder
The American Judicial System played another of its periodic little jokes on the idea that it has anything to do with Justice today in Charleston, South Carolina, as a mistrial was declared in the trial of Michael T. Slager, the North Charleston cop who shot Walter Scott multiple times in the back as Scott was running away from him last year. Judge Clifton B. Newman declared the mistrial after one member of the jury could not be convinced by the other eleven jurors to convict Slager of murder, because apparently a video of a cop firing multiple shots into the back of someone 17 feet away from him, who was not threatening the officer, was apparently not quite enough to persuade the juror that Slager wasn't somehow justified in shooting Scott to death.
The jury foreman had sent a message to the judge Friday saying the jury was within one vote of returning a guilty verdict on charges of either murder or manslaughter, but sent a second message Monday afternoon that they were deadlocked. The one dissenting juror wrote a letter to Judge Newman saying he could not “in good conscience consider a guilty verdict.”
But the jury’s foreman, the only black member of the panel, said in a separate note to the judge that the group was mostly in agreement that Mr. Slager should be convicted: “It’s just one juror that has the issues.” The foreman also said, “That juror needs to leave. He is having issues.”
So that's that, then. Prosecutors have said they intend to retry the case before a new jury, but the New York Times says it's also possible that Slager may accept a plea agreement.
Slager's defense had argued that, in running away after being pulled over for a broken taillight, Scott had put Slager in fear for his life. Scott had an outstanding warrant, and no, running from a cop is not a smart thing to do. It's also not a capital crime, unless of course you're a black man who is big and scary and inherently criminal-looking, which of course Scott was because you can see from his photograph right there he is black. Slager's defense was that Scott had "attacked" Slager, which isn't exactly what we see in the dashcam video or the later video of Scott being killed.
Feidin Santana, the bystander who recorded the shooting, said he heard Slager fire a Taser at Scott, and that Scott seemed to be trying to dodge the Taser, but if Scott ever attacked Slager, there's no video of that. On the stand, Slager testified he was in fear for his life, saying he'd "fired until the threat was stopped, like I’m trained to do.”
That's a "threat" that's running away from him. Seventeen feet away.
So it's either back to another trial, a plea bargain, or god knows what, next. In any case, we're sure the National Dialogue on Race and Policing will only be made calmer by whatever President-elect Trump eventually decides to say about the mistrial.
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