Jury selection in Baltimore started today for police officer William Porter. Officer Porter is the first of six officers to face criminal charges for the tragic death of Freddy Gray.
Freddie Gray, a 25-year old Baltimore black man suffered severe injuries during his arrest on April 12, 2015. He died one week later from his injuries. A video revealed Mr. Gray, screaming in pain, while being dragged by two police officers to a police van. He was handcuffed, feet shackled, and was transported in the van–unrestrained ( no seat belt). During the van ride, Mr. Gray fell into a coma from a major spinal injury. Baltimore City States Attorney filed criminal charges against six police officers including officer Porter after the medical examiner ruled that the death was a homicide. Mr. Gray was arrested for possessing an alleged illegal “switchblade.”The case attracted national and international media attention after several days of rioting in Baltimore that followed Mr. Gray’s death.
Defense attorneys requested a dismissal of the charges based upon alleged misconduct of the state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby. The defense attorneys argued that statements by Mosby, when she announced the charges, at the Baltimore War Memorial were biased and had “tainted the jury pool.” The judge indicated that he was troubled by the prosecutor’s words, but that the statements would not prevent a fair trial for the police officers. Judge Williams also denied defendant’s motion to remove their cases from Baltimore because the six police officers would not receive a fair trial in Baltimore.
The prosecution has alleged that Officer Porter ignored Gray’s request for medical help and that he failed to put a seat belt on the shackled Mr.Gray during an unusual lengthy police van ride to the police station. Police policy required a seat belt for any passenger in a police van.
Porter faces charges of manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment. The city of Baltimore faces a double edged sword. If Porter is not convicted, Baltimore could erupt in riot and protest against the verdict. Freddy Gray’s death is one of numerous young Black men’s deaths by police officers that have led to the national “Black Lives Matter” movement. If he is convicted, the police department will face a continuing troubling future.
The family of Freddy Gray received a civil settlement of 6.4 million from the city of Baltimore.
By: Bradley Schwartz:
Founder of prisonpath.com