It looks like a felony charge couldn’t stop this juror from weighing in on the case of a disgraced North Charleston police officer charged with killing Walter Scott.
Jury foreman Dorsey Montgomery, who thought a manslaughter charge against ex-officer Michael Slager was more appropriate, reportedly had a felony charge from the North Charleston police stemming from a traffic stop back in 2014, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
The discovery of the charge left many wondering how Montgomery was picked for the jury panel in the first place. Even more mysterious was that a prosecutor in the Solicitor’s Office dismissed the felony during the 34-year-old’s time as jury foreman in Slager’s murder trial without the knowledge of Solicitor Scarlett Wilson.
It’s unclear whether Montgomery’s breach-of-trust charge was known or even discussed during jury selection, as the presiding judge over the case kept details of the trial’s early proceedings from the public, The Post and Courier reported. But Slager’s shocking mistrial didn’t keep the public from digging into the sole Black juror’s history.
“I’m a big boy,” Montgomery told the newspaper in a phone interview Thursday. “Whatever transpired transpired. What happened happened. Whatever was done was done.”
Defense lawyer Andy Savage reportedly knew of the juror’s felony charge but didn’t move to exclude him from serving on the panel. The Post and Courier reported that about three weeks into Slager’s murder trial, a prosecutor in the Solicitor’s Office dropped Montgomery’s charge without her knowledge. That same day, Montgomery was appointed to jury foreman.
“I was not aware that his charges were resolved in the midst of trial,” Solicitor Wilson said, “or what the circumstances were surrounding their resolution.”
Days after a mistrial was declared, Montgomery appeared on NBC’s “Today” show to give his account of what happened during jury deliberations. He said he initially determined Scott’s death to be a murder after watching graphic video of the ex-officer shooting the Black man in the back multiple times as he ran away. According to The Post and Courier, the newly appointed jury foreman was the only juror to not have viewed eyewitness video of the shooting before the case.
After examining additional evidence, however, Montgomery said he and the 11 other jurors decided to focus on the lesser charge of manslaughter, as they determined Slager’s actions not to be “malicious” in nature.
Atlanta Black Star reported that the jury was just one vote away from a conviction, until a sole juror announced to the judge that he or she just couldn’t “in good conscience approve a guilty verdict.” But Montgomery said that wasn’t the case.
“I come to find out that the media misconstrued that particular letter,” he stated. “We had one individual that was deadlocked and he wasn’t changing. Yet, we had five individuals that were undecided.”
The jury foreman went on to say that although the Slager case was believed to have racial undertones, many of the jurors “didn’t have anything in reference to race that may have played a factor in the decision.”
“I believe that justice shall come forth,” he said during the “Today” interview. “Whatever the outcome will be … that is what the outcome shall be.”
Montgomery nor his defense attorney, Allen Mastantuno, have issued further statements on the matter surrounding his felony charge.