Mistrial as 1st Freddie Gray Case Ends in Hung Jury


     BALTIMORE (CN) – A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in manslaughter case against Baltimore Police Officer William Porter for the death of Freddie Gray.
     Jurors deliberated for 16 hours over three days before they came back with their indecision.
     There is no word yet when the state will retry 26-year-old Porter on the charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment in connection to Gray’s death on April 19.
     Five of Porter’s colleagues meanwhile wait in the wings for trials on similar charges.
     Porter is one of four officers charged with involuntary manslaughter, but two face a top charge of second-degree assault.
     One of the four charged with manslaughter also faces a count of depraved-heart murder.
     Porter’s trial hinged on the prosecution’s ability to show that the officer had behaved unreasonably when 25-year-old Gray suffered a critical spinal injury in police custody.
     Prosecutors claim Porter failed to buckle Gray into the van during a six-stop ride to the police station and failed to get medical help when Gray requested it.
     Jurors proved unable, however, to sort out discrepancies between Porter’s testimony and his statements to detectives in phone conversation and a recorded interview.
     While Porter told the detectives that he picked Gray from the floor of the van at stop four and placed him on the bench, Porter testified in court that Gray helped in taking a seat and that it would not have been possible for Porter to pick Gray up from the floor without some aid from Gray.
     Porter told investigators that, as soon as Gray indicated he wanted to go to the hospital, Porter conveyed that request to Officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the van.
     Goodson intended to take Gray there, Porter said, even though the officers were not sure whether Gray was truly injured or had been feigning distress to avoid jail.
     Gray had allegedly been kicking the back of the transport van for a part of the 45-minute ride, and officers suspected he might have exhausted himself.
     Porter told investigators that Gray never actually asked for medical attention. The officer claims that he offered to call a medic and that Gray said yes.
     Though Porter and Goodson agreed they should take Gray to the hospital, they didn’t call a medic to the scene, Porter said.
     Carol Allan, the assistant medical examiner who ruled Gray’s death a homicide meanwhile testified in the trial that Gray was already injured by the fourth stop.
     “At the 4th stop, Mr. Gray was displaying symptoms of a high spinal cord injury; difficulties in breathing and movement,” a copy of the autopsy report entered into evidence states. “The type of fracture/dislocation documented in imaging studies on admission is a high-energy injury most often caused by abrupt deceleration of a rotated head on a hyperflexed neck, such as seen in shallow water diving incidents.”
     Allan testified the injury could have been exacerbated throughout the van ride.
     Goodson’s plan to take Gray to a hospital took a back seat when the van received a call to pick up another prisoner at a fifth stop.
     Porter said Gray was still listless and responded in the affirmative when he asked again about the need for a medic.
     It was at this point that Sgt. Alicia White, the supervising officer, assigned Porter to accompany Gray to the hospital.
     First, however, Goodson wanted to drop off the second prisoner at the station house. By the time the van reached that destination, Gray was unconscious.
     Jurors saw video shot by Brandon Ross from Gray’s April 12 arrest.
     Goodson, the driver of the police van, faces the most serious charge of second-degree depraved-heart murder.
     In addition to White, the state has also charged Lt. Brian Rice and Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller. The defendants have all pleaded not guilty and are free on bonds.
     Allan’s autopsy report said Gray suffered a “high-energy injury” in the van, and that his death could not be classified as an accident because of “acts of omission” by the officers, citing the police department’s general orders and safety protocols for arrestees.
     Police say Gray was carrying an illegal switch blade when he was arrested. Video of the arrest shot by a bystander shows Gray dragging his feet while police put him in a van. Gray’s funeral on April 26 saw riots erupt across Baltimore, with at least 235 people arrested and hundreds of businesses damaged or set on fire.     
     Outside the courthouse dozens of protesters marched chanting, “All night, all day, we want justice for Freddie Gray.”
     Others chanted a refrain heard in protests around the city – “no justice, no peace.”
     After Baltimore sheriffs cleared the sidewalk where protesters had temporarily blocked traffic on North Calvert Street, the civilians moved one block east toward City Hall Park.
     Baltimore City Police spokesman T.J. Smith reported that two individuals were arrested during the protest. One of those arrested was a minor who had used a blow horn outside the court.
     Shortly after the mistrial was declared, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis held a press conference calling for calm in the wake of the decision.
     “Justice is a process, not a verdict,” Rawlings-Blake said, asking the residents of the city to respect the outcome of the trial.
     Davis said that both local and federal agents were placed around the city in preparation for possible unrest.
     There is an administrative law hearing scheduled for Thursday morning, where it is widely expected that prosecutors will ask to try Porter again.

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