The first of six trials related to the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Baltimore resident who suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody in April, has ended in a mistrial. William Porter, a police officer who joined the Baltimore Police Department in 2012, stood accused of criminal negligence and recklessness for declining to provide Gray with medical attention when he said he was hurt, and for allowing him to be transported in the back of a police van without a seat belt.
After several days of deliberation following a two-week trial, the jury informed the judge this afternoon that they could not come to a unanimous agreement on any of the four charges that Porter faced, the most serious of which was involuntary manslaughter.
Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby, who gave a fiery speech in May announcing charges against six of the officers who played a role in Gray’s arrest, will now move to try Porter again. Ian Duncan of the Baltimore Sun, who has covered the trial, wrote on Twitter that the mistrial “leaves everything up in the air for other five cases,” and that it’s possible prosecutors might want to delay the other trials in order to focus on retrying Porter.
The death of Freddie Gray inspired mass protests in Baltimore and around the country, and set off an ongoing period of extreme tumult in the city that has been marked by a sharp uptick in homicides.
Update, 4:49p.m.: There seems be some confusion as to whether the prosecution will attempt to try Porter a second time. Baltimore Sun reporters have said on Twitter that a new trial date will be set tomorrow, and that “Baltimore prosecutors have indicated they will try Porter again.” But a statement from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, in which she wrote that it “is now up to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to determine whether to further pursue criminal charges,” suggests a decision has not been made. (The Baltimore Sun’s main news story on the mistrial now says the same thing, though it also says that a “retrial date” will be picked tomorrow.)
Mosby’s office declined to comment, citing a gag order that pertains to all cases related to Freddie Gray.
Update, Dec. 17, 2015, 12:49a.m.: It’s still not clear whether there’s going to be a retrial. In an article today, the Sun cites University of Maryland law professor David Gray speculating that prosecutors might try to offer Porter a “more attractive plea deal” on the condition that he agrees to testify against one or more of the other five officers facing charges in Freddie Gray’s death. Gray, who is not related to Freddie Gray, is also quoted saying, “The decision as to whether they actually will go through with a second trial is weeks away.”