World Bulletin / News Desk
A jury failed to agree on a verdict Monday in the trial of a white police officer who was captured on video killing an unarmed black man in South Carolina last year.
“We as the jury regret to inform the court that despite the best efforts of all members, we are unable to come to a unanimous decision,” according to a note read aloud by Judge Clifton Newman who declared a mistrial. The jury of 11 whites and one black had deliberated for 22 hours over the course of four days.
Michael Slager was charged in May after fatally shooting Walter Scott while he was fleeing a traffic stop in Charleston on April 4, 2015. He faced life in prison if convicted.
The killing sparked nationwide protests coming on the heels of other high-profile killings by police of unarmed black men.
“Justice is not always immediate, but we must all have faith that it will be served — I certainly do,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement, following the mistrial.
During the trial, Slager claimed Scott, 50, was coming toward him with a stun gun when he opened fire. The officer said he felt "total fear", and he kept firing shots "until the threat was stopped, like I’m trained to do".
But mobile phone video taken by a witness appears to contradict the officer’s account. It showed Scott fleeing the scene after an apparent altercation with Slager, who then fires his weapon multiple times before Scott falls to the ground.
Scott’s death was one of a number of killings last year that provoked nationwide protests and debates about law enforcement’s use of lethal force, particularly in cases involving black Americans.
The Scott family and the city agreed to a $6.5 million settlement but the city asked federal authorities to review its policing policies.
Slager still faces a federal trial on charges he violated Scott’s civil rights.
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