Slager on the Stand (copy)

Former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager testifies Tuesday. Grace Beahm/Staff

Official jurors don't always deliver the right outcomes in a court of law.

Neither do the unofficial jurors in the court of public opinion.

But you don't need to be a habitual "Law & Order" viewer to reach this verdict:

If former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager isn't convicted for killing Walter Scott, lots of unofficial jurors will understandably detect a miscarriage of justice.

This isn't a TV legal drama. This is a real-life criminal case about a real death captured on video by a brave bystander.

That indisputable evidence shows Slager firing eight shots at Scott, hitting him with five of those rounds, as he runs away from the officer.

Slager took the stand Tuesday to explain that he "was in total fear" when he pulled the trigger. He said he thought Scott was coming at him with his Taser and was a mere 27 inches away before he fired.

Yet the actual distance, according to expert testimony, was at least 17 feet when Slager first fired at Scott. The video also shows the Taser on the ground, a fact Slager said he didn't realize at the time.

Regardless of that case's final scene, this sad verdict remains all too accurate: Cops, judges, jurors, journalists and everybody else in our country are routinely suspected of bias simply because of their race.

Crosstown traffic

The Slager trial isn't our only racially charged local courtroom drama.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel ruled Monday that Dylann Roof, facing dozens of federal charges and a potential death penalty for last year's mass murder at Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street, can represent himself.

Thus, this grotesque possibility emerges: Roof might cross-examine people who suffered the agony of seeing loved ones die that night.

Meanwhile, many Americans see the election of Donald Trump as a horror-show replay of bad old times not forgotten.

To this admittedly white guy, that seems overwrought.

Yet plenty of people of assorted races sincerely share that fear. And Trump, who has a rude way with words, did severely offend lots of folks, and not just black ones, by perpetuating the ugly birther myth about President Barack Obama.

You also don't need a history degree to know that it took our deadliest war to end centuries of race-based slavery on this continent — and then another century of struggle to liberate black Americans from second-class citizenship, especially in the South.

So despite major advances on the ethnic-fairness front, race remains a touchy subject — in and out of court.

However, the media fixation on the topic makes our racial divisions look deeper than they really are.

Look around. Lots of people are getting along fine across racial lines.

And hey, we've elected a black president twice — and a black U.S. senator from South Carolina twice, too.

So what's your race?

Are you sure?

Test your perspective

1) Name who wrote in reaction to Trump's victory: "Much as they may hate their behavior, and know full well how craven it is, they are willing to kill small children attending Sunday school and slaughter churchgoers who invite a white boy to pray."

2) Name who wrote this year: “On the most extreme use of force — officer-involved shootings — we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account.”

3) Name who recently said: "I'm half Scotch-Irish. When folks like (former Virginia Sen.) Jim Webb write about Scotch-Irish stock in West Virginia and Kansas and so on, those are my people! They don't know it, always, but they are."

Expect the unexpected

1) Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison wrote that, in the middle of an essay under the headline "Mourning for Whiteness," in the Nov. 21 edition of The New Yorker.

2) Harvard economics Professor Ronald G. Fryer wrote that in a study released in July. Professor Fryer, who is black, also told The New York Times that his data-based conclusion of no racial discrimination in police shootings was “the most surprising result of my career.”

3) Obama said that during a recent series of interviews for a story by David Remnick in the Nov. 28 edition of The New Yorker.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.