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Mistrial Declared In Ex-South Carolina Police Chief's Murder Trial

Jurors could not reach a verdict after 12 hours of deliberation. Former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs was charged with murder after fatally shooting a 53-year-old unarmed black man in 2011.

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Reuters / The Times and Democrat / Larry Hardy / Pool

Former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs sits with lawyers on the second day of testimony in his trial for the homicide of Bernard Bailey in Orangeburg, South Carolina.

A South Carolina judge on Tuesday declared a mistrial in the case against a former police chief who was accused of shooting and killing an unarmed black man in 2011, Reuters reported.

Judge Edgar Dickson declared a mistrial after the jury was still undecided at 2 a.m. Tuesday, local news site WLTX reported. Jurors were deciding among three options: Convict Combs of murder, convict him of voluntary manslaughter, or acquit him of all charges.

In May 2011, former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs shot and killed Bernard Bailey, a 53-year-old unarmed black man, during an argument that broke out at the Town Hall.

Bailey had arrived prior to a planned court hearing seeking to get a ticket for a broken taillight dismissed on his daughter's behalf. Instead, Combs tried to arrest Bailey on a warrant for obstructing justice that was issued due to his alleged behavior when the ticket was issued.

According to the New York Times, Combs testified that after Bailey resisted the attempted arrest, he got into his pick-up truck, started the engine, and put it in reverse.

Fearing for his life, Combs opened fire. Bailey was pronounced dead at the scene.

Combs, however, wasn't charged with murder until December 2014.

After about 12 hours of deliberation, the jury's final vote was 9-3 in favor of guilt. It was not announced whether the guilty votes were in favor for murder or the lesser involuntary manslaughter charge.

Both prosecutors and defense attorneys said they were disappointed with the outcome. The Bailey family reportedly left the courtroom in tears.

The prosecutor, First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, said he plans to pursue a retrial on the murder charge.

Bailey's family released a statement on Tuesday, saying they appreciated "the service of the Orangeburg County jury during the recent Richard Combs trial for murder," adding:

Even though the jury was deadlocked and a mistrial was declared, we are not dissuaded from our unswerving pursuit of justice for Bernard Bailey. We thank those who have sincerely displayed the courage and continued dedication needed to ensure that justice is for all in this case.

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