The Slatest

Freddie Gray Trials Begin With Black Officer Accused of Fatal Indifference

William Porter Freddie Gray
William Porter and his attorney Joseph Murtha in Baltimore on Nov. 30, 2015.

Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Six Baltimore police officers are scheduled to be tried for their involvement in the April 19 death of Freddie Gray; the trial of the first of those officers, William Porter, began this week. Here are the basics of his case:

  • An officer since 2012, Porter is charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office.
  • His jury is made up of “five black women, three black men, three white women and one white man.”
  • Porter is specifically accused of failing to secure Gray with a seat belt in the police van that was being used to transport him and of failing to promptly seek attention after Gray was injured. (Prosecutors say Gray died because of a neck injury sustained because he was not secured in the back of the van.)
  • Lawyers for Porter argue that he was trained hastily by a disorganized police department and that he should not be expected to have been fully aware of seat belt rules or to have understood the seriousness of Gray’s injuries.
  • Porter is approximately the same age as Gray and, like Gray, grew up in West Baltimore. He’s known to have interacted with Gray on more than one occasion and told investigators that “it was always a big scene when you tried to arrest Freddie Gray.”

The trial’s judge said he expects proceedings to extend no later than Dec. 17.