In an exclusive interview with NBC’s “Today” on Thursday, Dec. 8, the jury foreman involved in the mistrial of former police officer Michael Slager’s murder case spoke out about the case.
Dorsey Montgomery, the sole Black juror, told the co-hosts that the media did not get all the details concerning the mistrial this week. Additionally, the foreman stated that the jury initially wanted to convict Slager on murder, “but after we looked at the evidence, read the [laws] and looked at the things presented to us, we found out that he didn’t do anything malicious.”
The charge changed to manslaughter because Slager had a “brief disturbance of reason for that moment,” Montgomery said.
In April of 2015, Slager shot 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back during a police encounter over a broken taillight. The shooting became a national spectacle when a video, captured by Feidin Santana, showed Slager firing his weapon multiple times as Scott ran away.
Atlanta Black Star reported Monday that one juror may have prevented a unanimous decision and forced the mistrial. This unnamed juror wrote a letter Dec. 2 stating that he/she could not in “good conscience approve a guilty verdict.”
However, Montgomery said that was not the case. “I come to find out that the media misconstrued that particular letter,” he says. “We had one individual that was deadlocked and he wasn’t changing. Yet, we had five individuals that were undecided.”
Moreover, Montgomery revealed that he asked Judge Clifton Newman to deliberate a little longer so that he and others could sway those particular jurors.
When asked if race played a part in the outcome, the foreman said that it did because of the society we live in. “Race will always be a factor,” Montgomery said. “But at that point in time, some jurors may have that in mind. [However] the majority of them did not have anything in reference to race.”