Jury deadlocked on cop shooting the world saw

The jury in South Carolina reported today it’s deadlocked in the trial of the police officer who killed Walter Scott.

They deliberated 14 hours over three days and decided they can’t decide whether this constitutes murder.

As I wrote at the time, what would have happened if someone hadn’t been filming the whole thing? At the time, it seemed obvious that a guy, stopped for a broken tail light, ought not be shot in the back running away. Who could disagree?

“When you’re wrong, you’re wrong,” the city’s mayor even said at the time. “If you make a bad decision, don’t care if you’re behind the shield or just a citizen on the street, you have to live by that decision.”

What is the jury seeing here that few others seem to see? Or not seeing here that everyone else can see?

This afternoon, the jury had sent the judge a message that they wanted to read the transcript of the testimony of a man who took cellphone video above. The judge said they could listen to the testimony but they responded that that wouldn’t change anything.

“It was an injustice what I saw,” Feidin Santana, who filmed the killing, had testified.

The defense attorney questioned Santana about lyrics to a song he’d earlier written, lyrics with an anti-police view, he said.

“I am against police brutality,” said Santana. “I don’t tolerate injustice.”

The police officer testified that he feared for his life when he shot the 50-year-old Scott in the back as he ran away.

The jury can return a verdict of voluntary manslaughter, which is killing someone in the heat of passion. A murder charge required the jury to find an evil intent.

  • >>The jury can return a verdict of voluntary manslaughter, which is killing someone in the heat of passion.<<

    I guess I can see the jury returning with that rather than the murder charge…

  • Zachary

    Could they be deadlocked because half wanted murder, half wanted manslaughter?

    • crystals

      Interesting question to consider given Choi’s decision to charge the officer who killed Philando Castile with manslaughter. I recall lot of people saying it was the winnable charge, since it would be exceedingly difficult to get a murder conviction.

      It is still beyond me how someone could fear for their life when a human being is running AWAY from them.

    • CHS

      It’s my understanding that charges are treated individually. They can be deadlocked on murder, but could separately agree to manslaughter, or could deadlock on both.

      I have to wonder what the instructions given to the jury were, there has to be some sort of hang up regarding evidence to be considered, or a definition of intent, or some technical thing.

    • sure

  • DavidG

    latest I’ve seen was it’s 11-1 in favor of conviction. One juror doesn’t want to convict.

  • Anna

    I have a very different but possibly obvious take on the jury deliberations.

    Once the trial is over, there is nothing stopping people from threatening or stalking the jurors if they vote for the charge of murder.

    Any possible threats are not going to come from people of color but from whites who mistakenly still believe Trump is going to save their bacon.

    The tenor of the times has changed radically.

    Remember, this is Trump country. 6 in 10 white voters in South Carolina voted for Trump. Considering the vitriol that has continued and Trump’s continued insistence that the vote was rigged since the election ended nearly a month ago, I would be hesitant myself to vote for murder in what appears to be a racially motivated killing.

    The jurors value their lives more than a murder conviction.

    Keep in mind that the shooting occurred in April of last year, long before the political primaries had started and Trump’s winning the nomination was considered highly remote.

    I’m sure the jurors are receiving threats of some sort and as a sequestered jury, as most juries are in a murder trial, they can’t talk about what is going on during the deliberations.

    I am sure a lot of blacks in South Carolina are collectively holding their breaths and hoping justice will be served.

  • kat

    and people are mad at athletes for taking a knee…

  • Rob

    I still can’t watch this video without thinking of the old saying, “It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.” Where the danger was at this point, or how the officer could contend it was a heat of the moment situation, are beyond me. God help us.

  • Mike Worcester
  • JamieHX

    This has been the only such video I’ve seen in the last couple years that made me seriously question the police officer’s actions. All the others have shown me nothing for sure. But I still didn’t “convict” the officer in my own mind — there were still unanswered questions, like did the officer shoot him because he thought the running man still had his taser? I’ve heard that shooting someone under such conditions is justifiable. The person who takes a weapon from the officer could turn around and use it on the officer, or he could run away with it and use it on somebody else. It could be said the officer is protecting himself and/or the public in that case.