The jury foreman from the trial involving the fatal shooting of Walter Scott said that while one of his fellow jurors refused to convict the police officer in the case, a handful of others were on the fence about the man's guilt.
“We had one individual who was just deadlocked that he wasn’t changing, yet we had five individuals who were undecided,” Dorsey Montgomery II said Thursday on TODAY.
Montgomery sat on the trial of former South Carolina police officer Michael Slager. The trial ended in mistrial on Monday after the jury failed to reach a unanimous decision.
Last Friday, as the jury deliberated, one of the members sent a letter to the judge saying “I cannot in good conscience consider a guilty verdict.” But Montgomery said the “media misconstrued” the note.
“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,” he told TODAY.
Slager, who is white, was charged with killing Scott, an unarmed black motorist shot in the back while fleeing on foot. The exchange was caught on videotape and has been played repeatedly since the April 4, 2015, traffic stop.
Slager could have been convicted on either murder or voluntary manslaughter charges. Montgomery said when he first began deliberating he was prepared to convict.
“Initially it was going to be murder,” he said. But after reviewing evidence and reading legal definitions of the charges and “the things that were presented to us by the judged, we had come to find out he didn’t do anything malicious.”
Instead, Montgomery said he believed Slager demonstrated a “brief disturbance in reason” when he shot Scott.
“So based on the law, that would be classified under manslaughter, voluntary manslaughter,” he said.
Montgomery, the only black person in the 12-member jury, was asked about the role of race in the trial.
“Due to the society that we live in, race will always be a factor,” he said, but added that he did not believe race played into the decision for “the majority” of the jurors.
Asked about why the lone juror refused to budge about a not guilty verdict, Montgomery would not elaborate.
“He just had his own convictions, and I’ll leave that right there,” he said.