Murder of Walter Scott: Deadlocked Jury to Return Monday for Final Deliberation

Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager, center, is escorted from the courthouse during his murder trial at the Charleston County court in Charleston, S.C., Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. The case of a former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist is now before the jury.

Despite the fact that the jury in the murder trial of Michael Slager, a white former North Charleston police officer who fatally shot an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, informed a judge Friday it was unable to reach a unanimous decision, they are scheduled to deliberate Monday in a final attempt to reach a unanimous verdict.

The jury of 11 whites and one African American deliberated for over 16 hours. Judge Newman did not say whether the jurors were leaning toward a conviction on murder or on voluntary manslaughter.

“It isn’t always easy for even two people to agree, so when 12 people must agree, it becomes even more difficult,” Judge Newman said. “You have a duty to make every reasonable effort to reach a unanimous verdict. Discuss your differences with an open mind.”

According to Jenny Jarvie of the LA Times, if the jury fails to reach agreement, forcing the judge to declare a mistrial, it will be the second time a jury has deadlocked over a police shooting in less than a month. On Nov. 12, a judge in Ohio declared a mistrial after a jury failed to agree on the case of a white former University of Cincinnati police officer, Ray Tensing, charged with murder in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black motorist, Samuel DuBose.

The lone juror in a letter to the court said “I cannot in good conscience consider a guilty verdict” against Michael Slager, a former patrolman who pulled over Walter Scott in North Charleston, and ended up shooting him as a bystander recorded the incident on video.

Relatives of Scott and Slager were in court all day Friday. Attorneys for the Scott family said outside the courthouse they remained optimistic of a conviction.

“Justice is still coming. We’ll see it Monday,” lawyer Chris Stewart said. “Sometimes it takes awhile.”

Jurors are considering a charge of murder, which in Slager’s case could carry a sentence of from 30 years to life in prison, and a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, which carried a sentence of between two years and five years.

Slager also faces trial next year in federal court on charges of depriving Scott of his civil rights.