CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A jury of 11 whites and one black man began deliberations Wednesday in the murder trial of Michael Slager, a fired white police officer who was videotaped killing a black motorist after a traffic stop.
Circuit Judge Clifton Newman instructed the jurors on the law and told them they could acquit Slager, convict him of murder or convict him of voluntary manslaughter.
The case then went to the jury early Wednesday evening after a monthlong trial in which 55 witnesses testified. They deliberated for about an hour before going home for the night.
Slager was charged with murder, but the judge said Wednesday that the jury could also consider manslaughter in the death of 50-year-old Walter Scott, who died after five of the eight bullets Slager fired hit him in the back as he tried to run away.
Slager was fired from the North Charleston Police Department and charged with murder shortly after the Scott family’s lawyer made the bystander’s video public. The jurors repeatedly watched the images during the trial, even stopping to analyze them frame by frame.
Solicitor Scarlett Wilson showed it one last time after her closing arguments on Wednesday, then approached the jurors and spoke in a quiet voice as the screens went black.
“Our community, our courtroom can only have one fountain for justice. It’s time for Michael Slager to take his drink,” Wilson said.
The jury must find Slager acted with malice toward Scott to convict him of murder. Manslaughter requires proof the killing was done in the heat of passion, after being provoked.
Wilson said that even if Slager felt provoked by Scott’s resistance despite being repeatedly stunned by a Taser, that didn’t justify killing him.
Slager could face 30 years to life if convicted of murder. Manslaughter is punishable by two to 30 years in prison.
Scott ran …read more