Prosecutor will retry cop
By Frederick H. Lowe
The prosecutor of a former police officer who killed a fleeing black man by shooting him the back in a murder that was captured on cell phone video and shown around the world said she will retry the cop after the judge hearing the case declared a mistrial because of a hung jury.
Scarlett A. Wilson, solicitor for the Ninth Judicial Circuit in Charleston, S.C., issued a statement, saying she was disappointed by the trial outcome involving Michael Slager, a former North Charleston, S. C., cop who faced state charges of murder or manslaughter in the shooting death of Walter Scott.
“While I cannot overstate our disappointment that this case was not resolved, I commend those who sacrificed so much time, energy and effort to serve on this jury,” Wilson said. “We will try Michael Slager again. We hope the federal and state courts will coordinate efforts regarding any future trial dates but we stand ready whenever the court calls.”
Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman declared a mistrial Monday after a juror, believed to be a white man, said he could not vote to convict Slager. The jury was comprised of five white men, six white women and one black man, who was the foreman. Eleven jurors voted to convict Slager of murder or manslaughter. The jury began deliberating on Wednesday.
Slager’s defense team wanted Judge Newman, who is African American, to declare a mistrial on Friday. The judge, however, ordered jurors to continue deliberating today.
The murder of the 50-year-old Scott, a Coast Guard veteran, was the clearest recent example of a police murder of an unarmed black man.
Slager stopped Scott’s car, citing a broken taillight. Scott jumped from his car and started running. As he ran, Slager fired his pistol, shooting Scott five times in the back on April 4, 2015.
Scott crumpled to the ground and Slager handcuffed him, though it appeared that Scott was already dead. The entire deadly shooting, including Slager placing something believed to be a TASER, next to Scott’s body, was captured on cell phone video for the world to see but it wasn’t enough to persuade one juror to convict Slager.
It seemed to observers who saw the cell phone video that Slager’s conviction was a slam dunk for prosecutors but it didn’t turn out that way because many people refuse to question the actions of cops, or because ingrained racism against black men makes questionable or heinous police actions against black men acceptable or both.
Judy Scott, Walter’s mother, told reporters the fight is not over. “Today I am not sad. I know that justice will be served,” a tearful Judy Scott said, invoking Jesus’ name and shouting hallelujah several times.