The judge presiding over the case of Walter Scott, who in April 2015 was shot in the back by former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, was forced to declare a mistrial on Monday after the jury announced that they were unable to come “to a unanimous decision.”
“The court therefore must declare a mistrial in this case and I so declare that is case is mistried,” Circuit Judge Clifton Newman declared after the jury announced the deadlock. The news comes after a single holdout juror sent a letter to Newman on Friday saying that he “cannot in good conscience consider a guilty verdict.”
The defense had reportedly “claimed that [Slager] feared for his life when 50-year-old Walter Scott got control of the officer’s stun gun and pointed it at him. But,” NBC notes, “Scott was shot five times in the back while running from Slager.”
Indeed, the shooting—which was captured on video—catalyzed fierce local and national protests against police brutality, particularly against people of color, and spurred calls for a widespread overhaul of the justice system.
However, unlike the cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and countless others in which the police officers were not indicted, a federal grand jury charged Slager on three counts: “a federal civil rights offense for the shooting, excessive force without legal justification, and obstruction of justice for making false statements to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigators,” as Common Dreams previously reported.
According to reports from the courtroom, the Scott family walked “out of the room to silence in [the] hall.” Afterwards, Walter Scott’s mother, Judy Scott, told reporters: “He will get his just reward…I’m just waiting on the Lord…It’s not over until God says it’s over.”
Many others took to social media to voice their outrage over the ruling:
That THIS could not be declared “murder” in America should tell you EVERYTHING about our justice system. #WalterScott.
Just horrendous. pic.twitter.com/2mPnMXh84b
— Shaun King (@ShaunKing) December 5, 2016
— Bassem Masri (@bassem_masri) December 5, 2016
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) December 5, 2016
— Ron Asher (@rmasher2) December 5, 2016
Common Dreams. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license.