Slager, who is white, shot and killed Walter Scott, 50, an unarmed black man, after a 2015 traffic stop. The shooting was captured on a bystander’s cell phone video, which showed Scott running away as Slager shot him multiple times in the back.
Prosecutor Scarlett Wilson in a statement expressed disappointment, but said: “We will try Michael Slager again.”
The jury, which deliberated for 22 hours, had indicated Friday it was deadlocked — a fact that made the mistrial all the more disappointing for the Scott family.
The jurors, 11 white and one African-American, returned three times to deliberate on Friday after telling Judge Clifton Newman they were unable to gain a consensus. In a note, one juror said he couldn’t vote for a conviction and wouldn’t change his mind.
“Injustice will not prevail,” said Judy Scott, Walter Scott’s mother, after the mistrial was declared. “He will get his just reward.”
Scott said she was “not sad.”
“And I want you to know why I’m not sad because Jesus is on the inside,” she said. “And I know that justice will be served because the God that I serve, he’s able. He told me to wait on the Lord and be of good courage, and God, he is strengthening my heart.”
Earlier, jurors passed a note to the judge that said, “Despite the best efforts of our members we are unable to come to a unanimous decision.”
Jurors are thanked by each side
Wilson then thanked jurors for their service, saying even though she is disappointed she respects their decision.
Wilson urged jurors not to let “anyone from the outside get in your head” and make them question their decision.
“Y’all seen every minute of this trial,” she said. “You have sacrificed more than any of your peers.”
Wilson said she hoped to speak with the jurors to gain insight into the strength of their case.
Defense attorney Andy Savage also thanked the jury for its service. “The rule of law has to be preserved in this country,” he said.
Slager was charged with murder. There are no degrees to the murder charge in South Carolina. If convicted, Slager faces 30 years to life in prison.
Newman had allowed the jury to consider the lesser offense of manslaughter, which carries a potential sentence of up to 30 years in prison.
On the stand, Slager argued self-defense, telling jurors he shot Scott as he ran away because he posed a threat and could have turned around and charged him.
A key piece of evidence in the five-week trial was the cell phone video, which showed Slager chasing Scott, then shooting him in the back. Prosecutors estimated the two were 18 feet apart when Slager opened fire.
Slager is scheduled to go on trial early next year on federal charges, including civil rights offenses, related to the shooting.
“He dodged it by a hair and he’s not dodging it again,” said L. Chris Stewart, a lawyer for the Scott family, after the mistrial was declared.
He reiterated the sentiment of the Scott family that Slager will be convicted. Stewart said: “Our faith is unwavering … We aren’t worried. We don’t need to scream or shout because we know that it’s coming. It’s just been delayed.”
After the trial, some in the city’s African-American community expressed disappointment in outcome. The murder case coincided with the trial of white supremacist Dylann Roof, who is charged with killing nine church members at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Baptist Church on June 17, 2015.
“We never see a win,” pastor and community activist Thomas Dixon told CNN affiliate WCIV. “Our people need to get something in the win column when it comes to these officer-involved shootings. I don’t believe justice was served today.”
The shooting of Scott was one of several killings of unarmed black men by law enforcement caught on video, including the shooting of Philando Castile in Minnesota and the chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York. The deaths have led to protests nationwide about police misconduct in cases involving black men.
In the statement, Wilson said prosecutors were grateful to Walter Scott’s family for their “patience, understanding and cooperation with us.”
“The Scotts have been a sterling example of dignity and grace in extraordinary circumstances,” Wilson said.
Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg said he was “deeply disappointed” in the outcome.
“However, despite that disappointment, I also understand that justice is not always delivered by a single jury, in a single courtroom, on a single day,” the mayor said in a statement. “Justice is often a journey. And the journey to justice in the Michael Slager case is far from over.”