The jury foreman and only black person on the jury in the trial of Michael Slager, the former cop who fatally shot Walter Scott in North Charleston, South Carolina in 2015, is speaking out about how the case resulted in a mistrial on Monday.
In an interview on the Today show Thursday, Dorsey Montgomery II said that contrary to what media outlets have reported, the mistrial isn’t the result of just one deadlocked juror who wasn’t convinced that Slager was guilty.
“We had one individual who was just deadlocked that he wasn’t changing, yet we had five individuals who were undecided,” Montgomery told Tamron Hall and Matt Lauer. He added, “I believe we could have deliberated just a little bit more to see if we could sway that particular juror and get those who were undecided to make a decision.”
Slager was charged with the murder of Scott and fired from the police department after cellphone footage came out of Slager shooting Scott in the back as Scott, an unarmed black motorist, fled on foot.
Montgomery said that he was prepared to convict Slager initially when they started deliberating. But after the 12-member jury looked at evidence and learned the legal definitions of the charges, the foreman said “we had come to find out he didn’t do anything malicious.” Instead, Montgomery said Slager “had a brief disturbance in reason so based on the law, that would be classified as... voluntary manslaughter.”
The foreman also said he didn’t believe that race played a role in the trial for the majority of the jurors. But he said that “due to the society that we live in, race will always be a factor.”