Walter Scott Shooting Still Large
Walter Scott Shooting Still Large

Walter Scott Shooting Trial Begins With Nearly All-White Jury

Walter Scott Shooting Still Large

Opening statements for the trial of Michael Slager, the South Carolina police officer accused of murder in the death of Walter Scott, began today. But the trial is already causing some controversy for its jury panel.

According to a report from Business Insider, 11 of the 12 jurors involved in the case are white — six white men and five white women. Only one black man was selected.

Slager's attorneys disqualified nine potential jurors, seven of which were minorities, triggering the prosecution to challenge whether they were using race as the basis for striking them.

However, the challenge was dropped when the defense provided detailed reasons for the disqualifications. One potential juror, for example, reportedly did not have a good understanding of English, while another was a friend of a medical examiner who is expected to testify.

Scott's family attorney Justin Bamberg seemed undeterred by the jury panel. When asked about the racial makeup of the jury he said, "White people believe in justice, too."

Scott's death angered people across the country, when footage taken by a bystander emerged of Slager shooting Scott eight times as he ran away from the officer. The incident ignited protests and debates of police violence against black people.

"I am truly weary, deep in my bones, of writing these columns about the killings of unarmed people of color by the police. Indeed, you may be weary of reading them," New York Times columnist Charles Blow wrote following Scott's death. "What would have happened if video of this incident had not surfaced? Would the officer's version of events have stood? How many such cases must there be where there is no video?"

Slager was indicted on a murder charge in June 2015 and if convicted, could face life in prison. He also faces federal charges for obstruction of justice, violating Scott's civil rights, and unlawful use of his weapon in the commission of a crime.