The Associated Press reports that Circuit Judge Clifton Newman has declared a mistrial in the case of former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager, after the jury declared it was unable to unanimously decide whether to find Slager guilty of murder or voluntary manslaughter for killing Walter Scott.
Slager was standing trial for shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott to death in North Charleston after stopping him for having a broken taillight. Cellphone video taken by a bystander of the shooting was shown widely in the media and on the internet and sparked national outrage.
Race was never made a major issue at trial, even though Slager is white and Scott was black.
Jurors had deliberated more than 22 hours over four days.
Slager will still face a federal civil-rights trial over the shooting next year.
Recent years have seen several high-profile cases in which white police officers were forced to use lethal force against violent black suspects — and horrendously demonized as racists by the Left for their entirely-justified actions — but this does not appear to have been such a case, as National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke details:
After Slager pulled Scott over for a broken taillight, the New York Times reports, Scott fled the scene on foot. In pursuit, Slager discharged his taser, which failed to work as intended. Undeterred, Scott continued to run away, which – for some inexplicable reason – provoked Slager into opening fire with his service pistol. Having been hit at least five times, Scott fell to the ground and died.
The initial witness reports appear to have been wholly incorrect. Calling in the incident, Officer Slager claimed brazenly that Scott had tried to take his Taser, and that he had feared for his life. Offering their account of events, local eyewitnesses suggested that the shots were fired in the course of an ongoing fight. But the video footage tells a rather different story. The available film, the Times confirms, “shows the officer firing eight times” while Scott flees, unarmed. More disturbingly, having finished shooting and holstered his weapon, Slager then appears to plant a Taser by Scott’s side.
More disturbingly, the Guardian obtained audio that appeared to depict Slager chuckling about the shooting in a conversation with another cop about police procedure his “pumping adrenaline” in the immediate aftermath.
However, while it’s healthy for conservatives to keep in mind that not all cases are alike, let’s also keep in mind that a particular shooting being unjustified does not automatically mean there was a racial component to fuel the Left’s cop-hating, race-baiting narrative. Presumably, if there were any evidence that racism drove Slager to kill Scott, it would have been introduced at trial to establish a possible motive.
Further, as National Review’s Andy McCarthy explains, the fact that authorities in the state fired Slager and charged him with murder established that the justice sytem worked precisely as it was supposed to, and that the Obama Administration’s opening of a civil-rights investigation was pure partisan exploitation of the situation.
Conservatives have never wanted bad cops to escape consequences for crimes; we simply don’t want good cops maligned as bad when the evidence doesn’t support it, nor do we want to see a noble and vitally-important profession slandered as racist. Whether the jury should have been able to reach a verdict with the evidence before them, here’s hoping the incoming administration will push back against the notion of institutionalized bias toward police and against blacks, and help restore true impartiality to society’s conception of justice.