An ex-police chief in South Carolina had his murder case declared a mistrial on Tuesday. The chief faced murder charges relating to the shooting death of an unarmed 54-year-old man. The incident occurred in a tiny South Carolina town of Eutawville, which holds a population of approximately 300.
Man Shot in Town Hall Parking Lot
The shooting incident happened on May 2, 2011. Prosecutors referred to it as "an absolutely senseless act of violence." The victim was an ex-prison guard, who paid a visit to the police chief regarding a traffic ticket his daughter received. However, at the town hall, the police chief attempted to serve the man with a warrant for his arrest. The ex-prison guard was accused of obstructing justice at the scene of his daughter's traffic stop.
Rather than submitting to the arrest, the man left the building and tried to drive away. The police chief shot him three times in the parking lot. The man died from the resulting gunshot wounds in his abdomen, chest and head.
Police Chief Says It Was Self Defense
The murder trial began last week. During the trial, the 38-year-old ex-police chief maintained that he shot the man in self defense. Last Friday, the chief said under oath that the man pushed him. He also alleged that the man hit part of his body with his truck as he was trying to leave the parking lot.
"I thought I was going to die," the police chief said.
The panel of twelve jurors assigned to the trial could not come to a unanimous verdict. Nine voted in favor of a murder conviction or voluntary manslaughter conviction, but a unanimous verdict was required. The prosecutor on the case said that he wanted to retry the case. Meanwhile, the ex-chief's defense attorney said it was disappointing that a final result had not been achieved. The defense attorney described the case as "bruising" for both sides and a "tragedy."
It will no doubt be interesting to see how the pending retrial of this matter unfolds. It is possible that the next jury will have better success in reaching a unanimous verdict. Meanwhile, the chief and his criminal defense counsel will want to decide how best to defend the man the next time around.
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