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Police Officer Michael Slager on trial for murder.

UPDATE 3:45 p.m. – Judge declares mistrial.


The jury in the trial of police Officer Michael Slager in the shooting death of Walter Scott continues to deliberate this morning, after being deadlocked on Friday.

Background on the case, trial and jury deliberations is in our prior post.

Here is the live stream of the courtroom (if doesn’t load, check here or here for alternative feeds):

This mornings developments, Judge denied motion for mistrial, says latest notes don’t indicate jury still deadlocked, court has obligation to respond to questions when jury seeks help with the law.

Early afternoon developments, court provided answers to jury questions:


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I would not want to be that one guy who is holding out for Not Guilty. Because – his name will be given out and he will be targeted.

    I would not want to be the reporter who let his name out prior to the six months. Not after the courts got through with him.

      Subotai Bahadur in reply to RodFC. | December 5, 2016 at 5:07 pm

      It is absolutely sure that the name of the juror will be released and there will be retaliation. To assume that the courts have any problem with either the release, or the fate of the juror is perhaps unwarranted.

    tommy619tx in reply to MattMusson. | December 5, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    the majority was undecided. there was no sole hold out as reported.

Humphrey's Executor | December 5, 2016 at 4:38 pm

“The majority is still undecided…” Strange, before they said there was just one holdout. Maybe he/she brought some over to his side ala “12 Angry Men.”

    Michael Slager was on trial for murder, with a manslaughter charge just thrown in as icing. I heard the jurors wondered about adding that lesser charge at the very end. Also, that they were hung on the manslaughter charge, but unanimously not guilty on the original murder.

There was a white on black shooting in New Orleans last week and the shooter was let go, so far without charges.
What happened to the #BLM organized protests and riots?
Besides the Nov election being over, what could explain the lack of protests?

I’ll go out on a limb and predict no protests over this SC court case. The election’s over and the money for the paid protesters has dried up.

    Char Char Binks in reply to richardb. | December 5, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Maybe they’re waiting till the mid-term riots.

    The shooter was charged either Dec 5th with Manslaughter. IMO he will be found not guilty. Joe McKnight (the deceased) blocked the shooter in with his vehicle and left his vehicle possibly reaching into the shooters car.

    This is in a parish next to NOLA but the previous week NOPD had warned about car jacking’s and several took place. This was more of a road rage incident.

    Sadly McKnight is dead and the shooter will have his life forever changed for the worse. Regardless of the verdict.

Cnn keeps reporting the 11-1 nonsense , others have reported the majority could not agree. yes i agree the election is over , no need to pay protestors.

If you read up on this , there was more than met the eye, he had fought / chased him for 125 yards and was tangled up in the taser wires . Plus he did not know where the passenger was.

Is there any good argument for not guilty? I haven’t really followed this case. From my morning perusal of the paper, this seems a lot more clear-cut against the police officer than some others. However, there could be information I’m missing.

    tommy619tx in reply to M.K.. | December 5, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    there was a lot more than initially reported or recorded on video. there was a documentary that debunked some stuff by doing frame by frame analysis and image stabilization as well.

    The beauty of “innocent until proven guilty” is that there doesn’t have to be any particularly good argument for “not guilty” to get an acquittal. There have to be damn good arguments for “guilty” to get a conviction, but the defendant merely has to poke enough holes in the State’s theory of the case to convince the jury — in full or in part — that maybe the State’s theory isn’t quite correct.

    Sure, there are sometimes very good arguments for innocence, but those are typically not seen at trial; prosecutors usually don’t like to bring cases they’re likely or certain to lose.

They won’t get a conviction. There is no way they can convince all jurors of guilt on either charge. Great job by the jury for holding to their decisions.

Two things.

First, the state, in an attempt to placate potential protestors, overcharged Slager. !st degree murder was never going to fly. And, realistically, the state never expected it to. This was a political rather than a legal prosecution. However, when the prosecution reached the end of the trial and suddenly realized that a 1st degree murder case was largely unprovable, they attempted to slip in a jury charge for voluntary manslaughter in the hopes of obtaining a backdoor conviction.And, that did not fly with at least one juror.

Second, people tend to look at this incident as though it is entirely encompassed in the 15 second video made by the witness. They tend to ignore the flight after the traffic stop, the fight at the first point of attempted apprehension, the continued flight, the fight at the second point of attempted apprehension [this one involving Scott’s securing of Slager’s taser and possibly using it on Slager]and Scott’s continued flight after violently resisting a lawful arrest. At every point in this incident, Scott was the one responsible for what happened through continued, multiple violations of the law. When one looks at the entire situation, it is not difficult to find that Slager was simply attempting to enforce the law and Scott continually escalated the level of illegal violence to the point where Slager was forced to use deadly force to subdue him.

Was Slager’s use of deadly force legal? That is the question. Was it criminal? Well, a good case can be made that it was not, as Scott kept raising the level of violence to avoid lawful arrest, to the point where deadly force was the next logical step.

It is not surprising that at least one juror chose to give Slager the benefit of the doubt in his decision to utilize deadly force.

    tom swift in reply to Mac45. | December 5, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Scott continually escalated the level of illegal violence to the point where Slager was forced to use deadly force to subdue him.

    Unless Scott’s escalation of illegal violence had reached the point at which the “reasonable man” would think that it presented an imminent deadly threat to Slager, it’s hard to claim self defense. Illegal violence—short of imminent deadly threat—in itself is not sufficient.

    Similarly, “use of deadly force to subdue” is far short of “use of deadly force to defend”. The latter is justified; the former, not so much.

      RodFC in reply to tom swift. | December 5, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      The defense provided evidence that burns on Slagers vest were made by a taser. The prosecution provided evidence that “meybe” they were something else.

      If Slager is made defenseless, Scott can take his gun and shoot him.

      Uh, LEO’s are not judged on reasonable man stuff. They are armed and by law have to enforce the law and protect citizens. A felon escaping lawful arrest must be judged by the pursuing officer as a direct threat, by the felons’ actions. In no country I have ever heard of , can someone run from a officer, fight them, disarm them and break and run without consequence… and especially not in America. Good grief. There are special circumstances for cops and that the DA went after Slager was total politics and a sham.

        Milhouse in reply to RobM. | December 6, 2016 at 2:01 am

        Wrong. Cops are judged by the same “reasonable man” standard as everyone else. Actually in this instance the rules are stricter for cops than for anyone else; the old “fleeing felon” rule was struck down for cops and other state actors, as a violation of the fourth amendment. Non-state-actors are not bound by the constitution, so in any state that has not officially abolished the rule it still applies to them.

          Milhouse, well, we’re both wrong. I did some checking and the fleeing felon SC decision applies to civil cases not criminal, ie, family sues police for bad shoot. SC law is a mess and both says cops can shoot to detain a felon and also say maybe not, ie, what was the cops state of mind. And that’s what the jury hung up on. See:

          Milhouse in reply to Milhouse. | December 6, 2016 at 9:15 am

          That article is beyond confused.

          For one thing, the fleeing felon rule was completely irrelevant to the Ferguson shooting, because Michael Brown was not fleeing when he was shot; the writer seems to be convinced that he was.

          Second, that “many states – like Missouri – did not change their laws to conform with Garner” is irrelevant, just as is the fact that many states didn’t change their miscegenation laws after Loving v Virginia; they didn’t have to, because the decision automatically changed their laws.

          Third and perhaps most important, the writer makes a big deal that “other South Carolina Supreme Court decisions further confuse the situation”, by making self-defense depend on the defendant’s reasonable perception rather than the objective reality. This is the law in all fifty states, and always has been. For that matter, to the best of my knowledge it’s the law everywhere in the world.

          The writer continues, “another decision of the South Carolina courts that requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer didn’t believe he was in imminent danger.” This is the law in every state except Ohio.

          The writer then returns to his previous folly with “Criminal law experts say that taken together, the South Carolina decisions give police officers broader discretion to use deadly force than Garner provides.” As I wrote above, this is nonsense, and those unnamed “experts” would fail any Daubert test. Not only are neither of these “South Carolina decisions”, but the subjective appearances standard is in Garner itself! The decision rests on what the Tennessee policeman “reasonably believed”, not on the objective facts, because nobody can act on knowledge he doesn’t have.

          The bottom line is that the standard for policemen is not lower than for anyone else, and in fact is technically higher, since Garner doesn’t apply to non-state actors.

      Rob M covered the legal realities in the case.

      But, in the case of a jury, you are always dealing in PERCEPTION, not necessarily legal interpretations. This was why most of the defendants in Baltimore opted for a bench trial, where the judge was forced to rule on technical legal grounds, not on feelings. The first trial in Baltimore was a jury trial and it almost resulted in a conviction based upon juror perceptions of the case.

I think a lot of the news furor was caused by the foreman. Friday CBS reported that the judge was considering removing the holdout. Then corrected to to the foreman asking he be removed.

I think the foreman wa trying to manipulate the jury into a guilty verdict, and it is not absolutely clear that there was only one holdout.

I heard the judge appointed this guy foreman. I have to wonder why the judge did that?

I also have to wonder if it is usual for the judge to appoint a foreman in SC.

If Scott really did take Slager twice (and not the other way around) is that legal grounds for deadly force by Slager- even if Scott was running away? Will those details be released?

There was a story “When Johnny Comes Marching Home” by Timothy Zahn. He later expanded it into a novel called “Cobra”. The theme of the story was an augmented soldier ( at the time this was one of the few stories with such ) who returned home after a war and how he was received.

One day he is walking home and some brainless idiots decide to play a form of “chicken” with him and try to run him down. He dodges and as they drive away he shoots out their tires causing them to crash and die.

We then learn from city officials that they have implanted a computer into the soldiers brains, which cannot be removed, which takes over and continues fighting until the threat is neutralized.

I bring this up because after the fact, I listened to the testimony of the defense memory expert, and heard a scary thing. That is pretty much how our brains are wired. Once we engage in battle, or any physical reaction, our body is going on “muscle memory”.

The question then becomes when do we regain our ability to change our actions.

This seems to have happened to Slager. Testimony showed his tazer was his “goto” weapon. When Scott took it, Slager was forced to use his gun. He is even heard saying so. “Don’t make me shoot you.”

So the question is once a situation escalates to a shooting situation, when do you have the right to expect an officer to deescalate it into a nonshooting situation.

I think the jury was having trouble with this.

    RobM in reply to RodFC. | December 5, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    I do not think cops are trained, nor is it policy, to “deescalate” a felony chase. Once Scott ran from Slager, he was a felony stop. The wrestling and fight and resisting arrest more so. Disarming Slager of the taser even more, leaving Slager with the clear message, this guy is dirty and violent and must be stopped. Cops don’t let folks fight with them and run away anywhere I have ever heard of. If Scott had run a block or two away, barricaded himself into a hostage situation or carjacked someone or killed someone, would not the city have fired Scott for NOT stopping a felon? That’s the problem with 20/20. Good on the jury for rising above the clear intent of the DA and this judge to railroad Slager… and the media who badly prejudiced this case against Slager.

      Milhouse in reply to RobM. | December 6, 2016 at 2:05 am

      They had better be trained, and it had better be policy, to deescalate a felony chase. The old “fleeing felon” rule is illegal, and a cop who uses deadly force to stop a fleeing felon is a murderer, unless he had good grounds to believe that the felon posed an immediate danger to the public. The mere fact that he committed a felony is explicitly not enough.

        See my reply to you above Milhouse; your interpretation for SC is incorrect, but the law needs clarification. From what I’ve read so far, Slager followed training and department rules to a T, but the political nature of the shoot overtook his department and the DA… they threw him to the rioters and politicians.

          Milhouse in reply to RobM. | December 6, 2016 at 9:25 am

          If he followed training and department rules to a T then that training and those rules are seriously defective, and even if he is acquitted they will not protect him from a Section 1983 suit. Garner was a 1983 suit, and laid down the rule that shooting a non-dangerous fleeing felon violates his civil rights; Slager is required and expected to know this, and has no qualified immunity.

        Mac45 in reply to Milhouse. | December 6, 2016 at 11:37 am

        Wow. exactly HOW do you “deescalate” a felon chase without simply not chasing people?

        You do realize that resisting an arrest by using physical violence IS a violent felony, in most jurisdictions, and that a violent felon fleeing with one or more of a LEO’s weapons, or thought to be in possession of said weapons, would constitute a reasonable danger to the rest of the community.

        I’m sorry, but all the legal requirements for a lawful use of deadly force against a felon exist in this case. As this was not a classic police shooting and the state was free to file criminal charges against the officer, filing charges was not totally out-of-bounds [though Slager was grossly overcharged]. But, there was an extremely strong case for the defense based upon Scott’s actions.

          Milhouse in reply to Mac45. | December 6, 2016 at 1:53 pm

          If you are chasing a non-dangerous felon, and the only way to stop him is by using deadly force, then you let him go. That is the law of the land. You only have the right to use deadly force to prevent his escape if you have probable cause to believe he poses a substantial risk of physical violence. And no, resisting arrest is not in itself enough for that.

          Barry in reply to Mac45. | December 6, 2016 at 8:59 pm

          “And no, resisting arrest is not in itself enough for that.”

          Cute. He viciously attacked the police officer. That is enough for one to assume he is a clear danger.

          Which is why he will not be convicted, in spite of the state political witch hunt and a poor defense attorney.

          Milhouse in reply to Mac45. | December 7, 2016 at 10:59 am

          He did not “viciously attack the police officer”. He ran away, and when the policeman brought him down he defended himself. There’s nothing about such conduct to indicate viciousness, let alone to provide probable cause that he is dangerous to the public. Under such circumstances Slager’s duty was to let him escape rather than use deadly force to stop him.

          Barry in reply to Mac45. | December 7, 2016 at 11:57 pm

          “He did not “viciously attack the police officer”.”

          If it were you that had been attacked, I’m quite sure you would recognize it for what it was.

          He ran from the cop, and when cornered, viciously attacked the officer.

          Apparently you are blind.

    Mac45 in reply to RodFC. | December 5, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    It is all about training. Slager was trained to use an elevating continuum of force, from verbal commands and intimidation, through unarmed physical force, to less lethal weaponry, such as batons, chemical sprays and the taser, and on into the use of deadly force/weapons, in order to make an arrest. In the Slager case, when Scott had continually shown that he would not surrender. When he secured Slager’s taser and attempted to use it on him he elevated his crimes to include a violent felony. and, if Slager had believed that Scott was fleeing with a dangerous weapon which could be used to disable responding officers thereby allowing Scott to secure another officer’s service weapon, shooting him might well be justified. And, if Slager was the recipient of a taser discharge, just before Scott fled for the final time, he could well have been disoriented and, believe that he was still under potentially deadly attack, acted pursuant to his training.

If Scott had been a white man, Slager would not have been on trial.

It is a political witch hunt, nothing more.

Local news this morning is saying that the prosecution is intending to try him again.