Mistrial Declared In Trial Of Officer William G. Porter In Death Of Freddie Gray

On Wednesday, Judge Barry G. Williams declared a mistrial in the trial of Baltimore Policer Officer William G. Porter after a jury said they could not reach a verdict on any of the four charges against him in the death of Freddie Gray.

The jury made up of seven blacks and five whites, deliberated for 16 hours over the course of four days and could not unanimously agree on whether or not Porter was guilty of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

Via the Baltimore Sun:

“I do declare a mistrial,” Judge Barry G. Williams announced in a downtown courtroom.

Porter, 26, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. He is the first of six city police officers to stand trial in the death of Freddie Gray.

Attorneys are expected to appear in court Thursday morning in front of an administrative judge to pick a retrial date. Porter is not scheduled to attend.

It’s unclear whether Porter’s retrial will affect the trial dates for the other five officers, who are scheduled to be tried separately and consecutively beginning Jan. 6.

The State’s Attorney’s Office did not comment Wednesday, citing a “gag order that pertains to all cases related to Freddie Gray.”

Gray, 25, suffered a broken neck and severe spinal cord injury in the back of a police transport van after his arrest on April 12. His death a week later prompted widespread protests against police brutality, and his funeral was followed by the most intense rioting and looting in the city since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby charged Porter and five other officers in Gray’s arrest and death on May 1, and many have watched the proceedings in Porter’s trial closely.

Police from around the Baltimore region began assembling in the city Tuesday with riot gear, corrections officials cleared jail space in case of mass arrests, while political and community leaders issued calls for calm and peaceful protests.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday the city should respect the outcome of the case, and repeated that the city is prepared to respond “in the case of any disturbance.”

“In the coming days, if some choose to demonstrate peacefully to express their opinion, that is their constitutional right,” she said in a statement. “I urge everyone to remember that collectively, our reaction needs to be one of respect for our neighborhoods, and for the residents and businesses of our city.”

Baltimore City NAACP President Tessa Hill-Aston also called for calm.

“Whether you like the decision or not, the Baltimore City NAACP calls for frustration and anger to be controlled and the rights of all people respected, on all sides,” Hill-Aston said in a statement. “We must be guided by our own sense of what must happen next for Baltimore, guided by the tangible sense of frustration and anger held by so many city residents and guided by the fact that there remains five officers to stand trial for the death of Freddie Gray.”

The Rev. Jamal H. Bryant, pastor at the Empowerment Temple in Northwest Baltimore, said a mistrial “should not be confused with not guilty” and asked people to remain calm, so there is no pressure to relocate the trial.

“The only thing that gives me a glimmer of hope is knowing that he can be retried,” Bryant said. “I knew this was going to be a difficult case. I think this is an indication of the other five … . It’s not going to be a lay-up. We’re going to have to dribble all the way down the court.”

Bmore Bloc, which has led marches against alleged police brutality, called for a protest if Porter is acquitted. “If Porter walks, shut it down,” the group said on social media.

“Baltimore Bloc has repeatedly called for justice, which will only be served if Porter is convicted on all charges. We call on State’s Attorney Mosby to move quickly to retry Porter,” said Michaela Brown, a Baltimore Bloc spokesperson. “This is not over. Freddie Gray was treated as less than human and killed in police custody. Anything less than convicting Porter on all charges confirms that our criminal justice system does not value Black lives.”

 

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