On Monday, a North Carolina jury deadlocked over the question of Officer Michael Slager’s guilt in the shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, in the back. The media, predictably, went nuts. They claimed that this demonstrated cops could never be convicted; they suggested that the mistrial was a result of deep-seated American racism.
There’s just one problem: the facts.
The only reason Slager wasn’t convicted in this trial was one holdout juror – eleven other jurors were ready to convict. The prosecutor in the case immediately declared her intention to retry the case – as well she should. Video shows the officer shooting Scott in the back, then sauntering over to Scott’s prone body and dropping an object near the body. The prosecutor argued, “His first instinct, after those shots were fired and he cuffs a dead Walter Scott, was to stage, was to stage the scene.” Slager then lied to the police about the circumstances surrounding the shooting, claiming that Scott charged him and he killed him in defense of his own life.
Now, thanks to one juror, we’re supposed to believe that all of America is systemically racist – even though the governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, issued a statement explaining, “It is my understanding that there will be, as quickly as possible, a new trial where the Scott family and all of South Carolina will hopefully receive the closure that a verdict brings. Justice is not always immediate, but we must all have faith that it will be served – I certainly do.”
Instead of recognizing that the vast majority of Americans are disgusted with this mistrial, and that the justice system has yet to come to a conclusion on Slager, the media instead use the Slager case to show that America is racist and that the system is evil. They point to the fact that virtually no officers are ever convicted for murder – which makes sense, since most officer-involved shootings occur in disputed circumstances and involve criminals, and it’s difficult to prove a murder case against officers without clear and convincing evidence. Statistically, 78 officers have been prosecuted for killings in the United States since 2005, with just under thirty convicted of manslaughter and one of murder. But that just shows that Americans hate black folks, according to the Huffington Post: “Black people have shown time and time again that even when they’re unarmed, or fleeing, or completely innocent and a danger to no one, the people sworn to serve and protect can still kill them. And even when almost everyone agrees the evidence clearly shows the officer in the wrong, the system may end up disagreeing.”
“The system” hasn’t disagreed here. One juror did. The system allows for one juror to scuttle a verdict. That doesn’t prove the system racist anymore than the O.J. Simpson trial’s idiotic verdict proved that the system was racist against white people.
But the media are still searching for a narrative that shows white Americans attempting to clamp down on black Americans. They couldn’t be happier about this verdict, which they believe justifies their suspicions. But most of America is rightly outraged – and Slager will face trial again.