Jurors have been selected in the criminal trial of Michael Slager, the South Carolina police officer accused of murder in the death of Walter Scott last year.
All but one of the 12 jurors is white — a black man was selected, along with six white men and five white women.
Scott’s death drew fierce reactions after a bystander video emerged of Slager, a North Charleston police officer, shooting Scott eight times as he ran away from the officer. The image of a white officer shooting an unarmed black man ignited a firestorm of protests and debate over police violence against minorities.
Slager’s attorneys disqualified nine potential jurors, seven of whom were minorities, triggering the prosecution to challenge whether they were using race as the basis for striking them, according to the Associated Press.
However the challenge was dropped when the defence 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 family attorney Justin Bamberg did not seem bothered by the racial makeup of the jury.
“White people believe in justice, too,” he said, according to CNN.
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.
Opening statements of the trial began Thursday.