A Tazewell County jury couldn’t reach a verdict Wednesday in the official misconduct trial of a former Pekin police officer for repeatedly slapping a handcuffed teenager who insulted him last summer.

That produced a mistrial for Nathan Ujinski, 39, who could be tried again if State’s Attorney Stewart Umholtz so chooses.

The jury deliberated for six hours, beginning after a day of testimony ended Tuesday, before declaring itself deadlocked.

Jurors “were pretty much split down the middle,” said one, who indicated she could not find Ujinski guilty of the felony charge that carries probation to five years in prison.

A police squad car video of the incident did not convince her that Ujinski struck the 16-year-old youth with malice, as alleged, rather than to defend himself, the juror said.

A guilty verdict on the felony charge would have ended Ujinski’s chances of resuming his career as a police officer. He served 13 years in the Pekin Police Department after four years as a Creve Coeur officer and a Tazewell County corrections officer.

The trial marked the second time that Ujinski faced judgment in the case. The city’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners in January dismissed him from the police force for official misconduct as a department violation.

As a felony, the charge carried the accusation that Ujinski committed a battery when he slapped the youth five times in the face after the youth twice called him a “little bitch.”

The slaps were a rapid “retribution” for the insult, Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Johnson told the jury in closing arguments.

Ujinski testified he was protecting himself from “potentially” getting head-butted by the youth in a moment when their heads were near each other in the back of the squad car.

Johnson contended that the squad’s video, focused narrowly on the vehicle’s back seat, showed Ujinski leaning into the vehicle and slapping the youth quickly after the youth uttered his insults.

Ujinski did not tell two other officers at the scene of the slaps, the officers testified. When one officer told Ujinski he’d heard a sound and asked about it, Ujinski replied it “was the sound of my thighs slapping together,” the officer testified.

Both officers said the youth was obviously under the influence of drugs or alcohol. One said he was “threatening everybody” while he was tethered to a hospital bed shortly before Ujinski slapped him.

Officers had taken the youth to UnityPoint Health-Pekin hospital at about 1 a.m. on July 10 last year with minor injuries he’d received in a brawl outside his Pekin home. He was handcuffed behind his back and tethered at his feet when the officers wheeled him back out to a squad car for transfer to jail.

The youth sat down on the edge of the rear seat but refused another officer’s orders to swing his legs inside. Ujinski opened the door behind the youth, reached over and pulled him in, prompting the youth’s insult, the video showed.

The case will return to court for review on Sept. 22.

Follow Michael Smothers at Twitter.com/msmotherspekin