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US judge declares mistrial in black motorist Walter Scott's shooting by police officer

The jury in the trial of former patrolman Michael Slager has failed to come to a unanimous decision over the shooting of black motorist Walter Scott in South Carolina last year. A civil rights abuse trial is to be held.

Former police patrolman Michael Slager was charged with murder in the shooting death of 50-year-old Walter Scott in April last year.

On Monday, afer 22 hours of deliberation over four days, a panel of one black and 11 white jurors in Charleston, South Carolina said they were unable to reach a unanimous decision.

Circuit Judge Clifton Newman, read a note from the jury before declaring a mistrial: "We as a jury regret to inform the court that despite the best efforts of all parties we are unable to come to a unanimous decision."

Cellphone video taken by a bystander showed Scott being shot in the back five times. After the video went public Slager was fired by the police department and charged with murder. Scott had been pulled over in North Charleston for having a broken taillight on his 1990 Mercedes. He then fled the car, running into a vacant lot.

USA Polizist erschießt Mann Videostill Walter Scott (Reuters/South Carolina Law Enforcement Division)

Police video showing Walter Scott running from his car.

Judge Newman had told the jury after the five-week trial that they could consider a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter. The panel had appeared close to a verdict on Friday with just one member reported to be holding out against conviction.

Justice will be served

Scott's mother and brother said that justice would eventually prevail: "I'm not sad because I know justice will be served," Judy Scott said. The family's call for calm after the killing was widely credited with preventing violence that broke out elsewhere when black men were killed by police. Last year, the city of North Charleston reached a $6.5 million (6 million euro) civil settlement with Scott's family.

Solicitor Scarlett Wilson praised Scott's family for their patience and understanding. "They have not received the credit they deserve in their calm leadership for the community," Wilson said in a statement. "The Scotts have been a sterling example of dignity and grace in extraordinary circumstances."

Wilson said that she would retry the case against 35-year-old Slager.

Slager will be tried in a federal court next year on charges of depriving Scott of his civil rights.

jm/bw (AFP, AP)

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