Mistrial declared in murder case of former South Carolina police officer

CHARLESTON, S.C. (Reuters) - A South Carolina judge declared a mistrial on Monday after jurors weighing a murder charge against a white former South Carolina police officer who shot and killed a black motorist last year said they were deadlocked.

Ex-North Charleston patrolman Michael Slager, 35, was arrested and charged with murder after a bystander's cell phone video showed him firing eight times at 50-year-old Walter Scott's back as he fled an April 2015 traffic stop.

Images from Walter Scott's funeral:

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Walter Scott funeral
SUMMERVILLE, SC - APRIL 11: A young child walks among mourners as they attend the funeral service for Walter Scott at the W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center, after he was fatally shot by a North Charleston police officer after fleeing a traffic stop in North Charleston on April 11, 2015 in Summerville, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed on April 4 by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop. The officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
SUMMERVILLE, SC - APRIL 11: Judy Scott is greeted after the funeral for her son Walter Scott, at the W.O.R.D. Ministries Christian Center, after he was fatally shot by a North Charleston police officer after fleeing a traffic stop in North Charleston on April 11, 2015 in Summerville, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed on April 4 by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop. The officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
US Senator Tim Scott (R), R-SC, departs following the funeral of Walter Scott at WORD Ministries Christian Center in Summerville , South Carolina on April 11, 2015. Hundreds of mourners gathered Saturday for the funeral of Walter Scott, an unarmed black suspect who was shot dead by a white officer in South Carolina as he fled following a routine traffic stop. Scott's death, which a bystander caught on video, has reignited debates about excessive police force and race relations in the United States. Scott's body arrived, where family, friends, politicians and law enforcement gathered to bury the 50-year-old father of four. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 10: A passer-by looks on at the site where Walter Scott was killed on April 4th by a North Charleston police officer on April 10, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop and the officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 10: A memorial is seen through a fence marking the site where Walter Scott was killed on April 4th by a North Charleston police officer on April 10, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Mr. Scott was killed by North Charleston police officer Michael T. Slager after a traffic stop and the officer now faces murder charges. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Tiffany Williams (C), a childhood friend of Walter Scott, the 50-year-old man who was shot as he ran away from an officer after a traffic stop, is hugged by Project Street Outreach Manager Denise Cromwell, as she breaks down while visiting the spot where Scott was killed in Charleston, South Carolina on April 9, 2015. The shooting is America's latest high-profile police killing of a black man by white officers. A string of such shootings of unarmed victims, where officers are rarely charged, have sparked protests around the country with demonstrators alleging racism in the nation's police forces. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
After watching the video, the senseless shooting and taking of #WalterScott's life was absolutely unnecessary and avoidable. (1/2)
My heart aches for the family and our North Charleston community. I will be watching this case closely. (2/2)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: A family friend of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, breaks down during a rally outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
Recap of the press conference: https://t.co/342hrODMkF #WalterScott
Officer Michael Slager fired 8 shots toward #WalterScott, Attorney says 4 hit him, 2 fatal: http://t.co/y8mqwG3zD6 http://t.co/LkwfB2SwQc
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
NORTH CHARLESTON, SC - APRIL 08: People participate in a rally to protest the death of Walter Scott, who was killed by police in a shooting, outside City Hall on April 8, 2015 in North Charleston, South Carolina. Video captured by a bystander showed officer Michael Slager shooting Scott as he ran away. Officer Slager has been charged with murder as a result of the incident. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)
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Twelve jurors heard four weeks of testimony in a Charleston courtroom and deliberated over four days. Slager testified on his own behalf during the state trial.

"Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to come to a unanimous verdict," the jury said in a note to Judge Clifton Newman on Monday afternoon.

Jurors first alerted the judge that they were deadlocked on Friday. They said one member was holding out against a conviction, though they did not indicate whether the rest of the panel was settled on finding Slager guilty of murder or a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

Jurors decided to deliberate again on Monday. After receiving more explanation of the law from Newman, however, they sent another note saying they would not reach a consensus.

(Additional reporting and writing by Colleen Jenkins and Letitia Stein; Editing by Tom Brown and Matthew Lewis)

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