Judge in SC police shooting trial tells deadlocked jury to keep deliberating

A judge overseeing the murder trial of a police officer who fatally shot a black man in South Carolina last year instructed the jury to continue deliberating after its members said they were deadlocked Friday, according to multiple reports.

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The jury has been unable to return a verdict after hours of deliberation, but Circuit Court Judge Clifton Newman instructed them to keep trying on Monday.

Officer Michael Slager shot and killed motorist Walter Scott during a traffic stop in North Charleston, S.C., in April 2015. 

Video taken by a passerby showed Slager shooting at Scott as he tried to flee. The video also shows Slager walk over to Scott’s body to drop his police-issued taser nearby, which prosecutors point to as evidence that he was trying to orchestrate a coverup.

Slager, who was fired from the force, testified that during an altercation, Scott took his taser and turned it on him. 

The jury twice told Newman that they were unable to come to a consensus Friday, with one of the 12 jurors at odds with the rest, Reuters reported

"I cannot in good conscience consider a guilty verdict," the juror juror told Newman in a note, adding, "At the same time, my heart does not want to tell the Scott family that the man who killed their son, brother and father is innocent."

Newman told the jurors: "You have a duty to make every reasonable effort to reach a unanimous verdict," but said if they could not reach a consensus he would have to declare a mistrial and try the case again with a different jury.

According to the Post and Courier, the judge told them to keep trying, but to stick with their convictions if they sincerely believe in them.

"Every one of you has the right to your own opinion," Newman told the group of 11 white people and one black man. "You should not give up your firmly held opinion just to be in agreement."

Updated at 7:33 p.m.