Judge Declares Mistrial In Case Of Officer Charged With Death Of Freddie Gray
A judge has declared a mistrial after the jury was hung in the case of Baltimore police Officer William Porter in connection with the death of Freddie Gray.Advertisement
Gray, 25, had died a week after sustaining injuries while he was in custody. Prosecutors believed the trial of Porter – who was charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office – would influence the case brought against Caesar Goodson Jr., who was driving the van. The remaining trials in connection with Gray’s death on April 19 are scheduled for next year. “There is no question now that the state can’t just proceed against Officer Goodson with Officer Porter unless they try Officer Porter first,” David Jaros, an assistant professor of law at the University of Baltimore, said.
As reported by the New York Times, Kwame Rose announced the decision outside the courtroom. “They just declared a mistrial!” he shouted, adding, “Justice has not been served,” and “The system has failed us once again.” Other protestors started chanting, “No justice, no peace!” and “All night, all day, we will fight for Freddie Gray!”
Porter, who shared the same neighborhood with Gray while growing up, said in his defense that Gray was “unable to give me a reason for a medical emergency.” He added that fastening the seatbelts of those arrested in the van is not his responsibility. Porter faces a maximum penalty of about 25 years.
“In the coming days, if some choose to demonstrate peacefully to express their opinion, that is their constitutional right,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. “In the case of any disturbance in the city, we are prepared to respond. We will protect our neighborhoods, our businesses and the people of our city.” On Wednesday, Rawlings-Blake said at a news conference that respecting the jury’s decision was important. “We cannot and will not be defined by the unrest of last spring,” she said, as reported by NBC News.
A video footage captured by a cellphone moments following Gray’s arrest was featured in the trial. It sheds light as to when the victim’s injury occurred and whether there was anything Porter could have done to save Gray. It also highlighted what happened inside the van after Gray was arrested by two officers on the morning of April 12. In the video, Gray could be seen being dragged into the van.
Porter, who arrived later as backup, said in his defense that he thought Gray was faking his injuries and did not know that Gray’s life was in danger until the van reached the Western District police station, with Gray lying shackled and unresponsive on the floor. “It was traumatic for me, also,” Porter said. “Freddie Gray and I, we weren’t friends, but we had a mutual respect.”
Prosecutor Janice Bledsoe said that Porter disregarded department regulations that asked him to call a medic and fasten Gray’s seatbelt. “How long does it take?” Ms. Bledsoe asked. “How long does it take to click a seatbelt, and click a radio to ask for a medic? Two seconds? Three seconds? Maybe four seconds? Is two, three or four seconds worth a life?
In the wake of Gray’s death, Rawlings-Blake had said she would not be running for re-election as mayor and had also fired the former police commissioner, Anthony W. Batts. Gray’s family was paid a settlement of $6.4 million by the city.