Saturday, September 30, 2023
Courthouse News Service
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Judge Orders Freddie Gray Jury to Reach a Verdict

BALTIMORE (CN) - Stern with jurors in the first trial over the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, a judge refused Tuesday to accept their deadlocked vote.

The jury tried to come back with no verdict this afternoon after 10 hours deliberating the fate of William Porter, one of six Baltimore police officers indicted in connection to Gray's death this April.

Porter, 26, has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges he faces after Gray suffered a critical spinal cord injury during his arrest on April 12 and died a week later.

During a two-week-long trial earlier this month, prosecutors tried to show evidence that Porter failed to get help when 25-year-old Gray was injured in the van taking him to the police station.

The Baltimore Police Department sent a directive to officers just three days ahead of Gray's arrest regarding their obligation to use a seat belt when securing detainees in transport vans.

Porter testified that he picked Gray up off the van's floor after the fourth of six stops to the station, and sat him up in a chair.

When the jury said they were deadlocked Tuesday, Judge Barry Williams was stern but not overly aggressive as he sent them back to continue deliberating.

It is unclear whether the jury is hung on all four of the charges Porter faces or just the manslaughter charge. Porter is also accused of second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.

Peaceful protest following Gray's death on April 19 turned violent after Gray's funeral on April 27. As rioters took to the street, hundreds of businesses were vandalized while others were set on fire.

Jury deliberations began Monday after closing arguments in which prosecutors said it would have taken just seconds for Porter to seat-belt Gray and call for medical assistance that could have saved Gray's life.

Porter's attorneys meanwhile said that the state failed to prove the Porter's actions were outside the scope of how a "reasonable officer" would have behaved.

Arguing for the defense, Joseph Murtha told the jury to look closely at the evidence, saying it failed to prove exactly when Gray's injury occurred.

Murtha also said there is no evidence that Gray's outcome would have been different if Porter had called a medic during the 45-minute ride to the station.

As the jury continues deliberations, Baltimore city officials have braced for potential riots when the verdict is announced.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake opened an emergency operations center Monday.

Rawlings-Blake sent a letter to Baltimore community leaders stating the she has "no doubt" city officials are prepared for anything, but the center opened at 10 a.m. Monday as a precaution. She said the center will help agencies coordinate any necessary response.

Last week during a press conference with Baltimore's police chief, Rawlings-Blake said people must respect the jury's decision in Porter's trial.

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