Jury foreman: 5 jurors were undecided on Slager verdict

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Posted: Dec 08, 2016 3:22 PM
Jury foreman: 5 jurors were undecided on Slager verdict

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The foreman of the jury that couldn't reach a verdict in the murder trial of a former South Carolina police officer initially wanted to convict Michael Slager of murder.

That's what Dorsey Montgomery said Thursday on NBC's "Today." But after reviewing evidence, including cellphone video of the shooting, Montgomery said that he thought the 35-year-old Slager was guilty of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Walter Scott.

Jurors deliberated more than 22 hours over four days before a mistrial was declared Monday. The white former officer was charged with shooting Scott, who was black, five times in the back as he fled a traffic stop in April 2015, an incident captured by a bystander on cellphone video that was shared online and horrified many.

Later Thursday, Montgomery told ABC News that the final vote the jury took was 10 for guilty of voluntary manslaughter and two for not guilty.

At one point late last week, a juror wrote a note telling the judge that he couldn't "in good conscience" convict Slager. That same day, Montgomery, as the jury foreman, told the judge the jury wasn't able to agree but thought a weekend off of deliberations would help, a request the judge granted.

But that note, Montgomery said Thursday, didn't mean the other 11 jurors all thought the officer was guilty. In fact, he told "Today," five of them weren't decided on how they'd vote.

"We had one individual who was just deadlocked ... but yet we had five other individuals who were undecided," said Montgomery, the sole black member of the jury.

"He just had his own convictions, and I'll leave that right there," Montgomery said, when asked what exactly the juror said about why he felt that way.

State prosecutors have said they plan to try Slager again. He has also been charged with civil rights violations in federal court.

When Montgomery was picked for the jury, he had a pending felony breach of trust charge. The charge was dropped by Solicitor Scarlett Wilson's office on Nov. 17 in the midst of the trial and no reason was given, according to court records.

North Charleston police arrested Montgomery — the same agency Slager worked for.

Wilson told The Post and Courier of Charleston (http://bit.ly/2gFv8lx) that she didn't know another prosecutor in her office dropped Montgomery's charge.

Slager's attorney Andy Savage told the newspaper he knew about Montgomery's charge, but kept him on the jury.

The public didn't know about the charge because Circuit Judge Clifton Newman banned reporters from court sessions where potential jurors were questioned.

Montgomery was charged after his employer, Best Buy, said he stole, gave away or offered improper discounts on $5,500 worth of phones, game controllers and other items, The Post and Courier reported.

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Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP . Read more of her work at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/meg-kinnard/

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This story corrects that Slager faced a possible conviction for voluntary manslaughter, not involuntary manslaughter.