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South Carolina judge declares mistrial in police killing of black man

6 December 2016 10:11

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A judge in the US state of South Carolina has declared a mistrial in the prosecution of a white former police officer who shot dead an unarmed black man last year, sparking weeks of protest.

Michael Slager shot Walter Scott five times in the back while he was fleeing from the officer after a routine traffic stop in the city of North Charleston in April 2015.

Slager, 35, will face another trial after a jury of 11 white members and just one black, failed to reach a unanimous decision against the officer due to one white juror’s refusal to agree with a guilty verdict.

Officer Mike Slager (L) and his colleague put handcuffs on Walter Scott after he was shot.

 

Judge Clifton Newman halted the trial on Monday, saying that the officer would undergo another trial with the same evidence but before different jurors.

“The fight isn’t over, that was Round 1,” said Chris Stewart, a lawyer for Scott’s family. “We all saw what he did. We all saw what happened.”

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley welcomed the decision, saying she looked forward to see justice served.

“Justice is not always immediate, but we must all have faith that it will be served — I certainly do,” she said in a statement.

State solicitor Scarlet Wilson said she was ready to retry the case “whenever the court calls.”

The jury’s decision was expected to revive a storm of protests that swept the small city after Scott’s death.

This file photo shows a placard tied to the fence outside the place where Walter Scott was shot and killed. (Photo by AFP)

 

The public unrest continued despite a $6.5 million settlement deal between Scott’s family and city officials. The family said they were going to continue their legal battle against Slager regardless.

If convicted, Slager, who was fired after the incident, would face life in jail.

The use of excessive force by Slager, which was videotaped by a passer-by, sparked outrage in the US and further fueled a national conversation around race and policing.

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