Questions, Disbelief After Mistrial In Walter Scott Shooting

By ERRIN HAINES WHACK, Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The video was unambiguous: A white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black man in the back as the man ran away.

But a South Carolina jury was unable to agree on a verdict in one of the nation’s ghastliest police shootings, with a lone holdout forcing a mistrial. The outcome stung many African-Americans and others. If that kind of evidence can’t produce a conviction, they asked, what can?

“There’s a jury full of people and they cannot decide if it’s illegal to shoot someone who is running away from you?” said activist Johnetta Elzie. “What do you say about a country that feels this way about black people? If you can’t see the humanity in that, I don’t know what we’re talking about anymore.”

Prosecutors plan to retry officer Michael Slager, who is scheduled to be tried separately next year on federal charges that he violated Walter Scott’s civil rights.

North Charleston city officials approved a $6.5 million civil settlement for Walter Scott’s family earlier this year. Slager remains free on bail.

South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley voiced her support for Scott’s family, saying in a statement that justice “is not always immediate, but we must all have faith that it will be served.”

Scott, 50, was killed in April 2015 after he was shot five times. A barber on his way to work recorded the slaying on his cellphone.

The panel of 11 white jurors and one black juror deliberated for 22 hours. At one point, a juror sent a letter directly to the judge saying he could not “with good conscience approve a guilty verdict” and that he was unlikely to change his mind. As they weighed their decision, jurors also asked the judge to explain the legal difference between fear and passion and inquired whether …read more