The jury for the trial of Michael Slager told the judge it could not reach a consensus. Prosecutors then asked for the jury to be given the Allen Charge, a special set of instructions imploring the jury to go back and discuss further. WLTX
Jurors in South Carolina in the case of a white former North Charleston police officer charged with fatally shooting a black motorist during a traffic stop are breaking for the weekend and will resume deliberations Monday, trying to break a deadlock, according to WYFF4 television.
Jurors wrote a note to Judge Clifton Newton saying they were “beat,” asking if they could continue trying to push through their deadlock on Monday, according to the news organization.
The break for the week came about an hour after a juror in the case in the fatal shooting of Walter Scott, 50, saying he could not vote for a guilty verdict and would not change his mind, according to the Associated Press and CBS News.
As Judge Clifton Newton informed the court about the note, lawyers for Michael Slager, 35, who is white, requested a mistrial. The jury foreman asked Newton for a clarification of the law.
If the jury cannot reach a verdict, a mistrial will be declared.
The juror wrote that he “can’t in good conscience approve a guilty verdict,” the Associated Press reported.
Newman asked the clerk of the court to speak with the jury foreman to determine if the panel is “hopelessly deadlocked,” CBS reported.
Earlier, Newton ordered the jury to continue deliberating in the case that unfolded after Slager shot Scott several times in the back during a traffic stop.
At about 1 p.m., jurors sent out a note saying they could not reach a verdict but Newton instructed them to keep trying.
Deliberations began Wednesday in the month-long trial.
Slager could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of murder in the death of Scott. A voluntary manslaughter conviction could bring a sentence of up to 30 years.
An emotional Slager testified this week that he pulled over Scot for a broken tail light on April 4, 2015. Scott fled the traffic stop and attempted to wrest away Slager’s Taser in an ensuing scuffle, the officer said. He said he shot Scott out of fear for his own life.
A bystander’s cellphone video, which begins seconds before Slager started shooting, shows Scott fleeing from Slager, who fires eight shots. Scott was hit three times in the back, once in the buttocks and once on the ear.
In closing arguments Wednesday, defense lawyer Andy Savage said Scott was killed because he attacked a police officer. The case, Savage said, sends an ominous message to officers that they can face murder charges for life-and-death decisions made “in the heat of battle.”
Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson accused Savage of using “smoke and mirrors” to confuse the jury.
“That badge is supposed to be a shield, not a sword,” she said. “Our community has one fountain for justice. It’s time for Michael Slager to take his drink.”
Slager was fired from the force and charged with murder within days of the release of the cellphone video. He has been free since January on a $500,000 bond.
Slager also is awaiting trial in federal court, charged with violating Scott’s rights, obstruction of justice and a gun violation. The city of North Charleston agreed to pay a $6.5 million settlement to the Scott family.
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