The foreman of the jury that failed to come to a verdict in the trial of former North Charleston, S.C., policeman Michael Slager says although it had been reported that one juror held out just before a judge declared a mistrial, he says the deadlock that was reported was a “myth.” In truth he says, at least five jurors were undecided about the officer’s guilt over the shooting death of motorist Walter Scott.
On Thursday, Dorsey Montgomery II told NBC’s “Today” show that the media had “misconstrued” a letter sent by the jury saying that it could not come to a decision on the case.
“When that letter was submitted on that Friday,” he said. “It was because we had one individual who was deadlocked that he wasn’t changing. But yet we had five other individuals who were undecided and so because of that…I believe we could have deliberated just a little bit more to see if we could sway that particular juror and the ones who were undecided to make a decision.”
Montgomery, the only African-American sitting on the jury, said that he was prepared to convict at first, but eventually softened his own stance when seeing both the cellphone video taken by a bystander depicting Slager shooting Scott in the back as he ran away and evidence presented by the defense. Slager testified that he feared for his life because Scott had grabbed his Taser, forcing him to shoot, based on his police training.
“Not knowing everything we know now, of course we can speculate but after seeing the video and seeing the evidence, we understand just a little bit different, now,” he said.
While appearing on ABC’s “The View,” Montgomery explained that five weeks worth of evidence was presented to jurors, detailing the moments leading up to the shooting. He said that had to be considered along with the video. When that was presented to him, he was no longer convinced that Slager had committed an intentional murder.
“What Michael Slager did wasn’t malicious,” he said. “It would be voluntary manslaughter based on the law.”
Prosecutors have vowed to retry Slager, but it is not clear when that will happen. He also faces federal civil rights charges, but any trial on those would come under a new U.S. Attorney General, who may or may not pursue them.