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Jury Deliberations to Continue in Freddie Gray Trial

  • VOA News

A demonstrator blocks traffic as protests moved into the street on the first day of pretrial motions for six police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, Sept. 2, 2015.

A demonstrator blocks traffic as protests moved into the street on the first day of pretrial motions for six police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland, Sept. 2, 2015.

Jurors will resume deliberations Wednesday in the trial of a Baltimore, Maryland, police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, a young African-American man severely injured in a police van in April.

Judge Barry Williams said the jury was deadlocked and instructed them to keep working toward a verdict. He earlier refused a defense motion for a mistrial and a bid to move the proceedings to another city after Baltimore children were warned against protesting inside schools when a verdict is announced.

The judge gave no hint about which way the jurors had voted so far.

Officer William Porter, who is also black, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct. He has pleaded not guilty. He is the first of six officers, black and white, charged in Gray's death.

Prosecutors allege Porter and the others failed to help Gray, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in the van. Gray was handcuffed and his feet were shackled, but he was not buckled into his seat. During travel, he was allegedly thrown from the seat and struck the side of the van; the impact severed his spinal cord, leaving him in a coma.

Prosecutors said Porter failed to put Gray into a seat belt, ignored his pleas for medical help and abused his power as a police officer.

The defense called Gray's death a horrible tragedy, but argued there was no evidence to convict Porter and that there was too much reasonable doubt of his guilt. Lawyers said Porter helped Gray onto the van's bench and passed his request for aid on to other officers.

William Porter, right, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, walks into a courthouse with his attorney Joseph Murtha for jury selection in his trial, Nov. 30, 2015, in Baltimore.

William Porter, right, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, walks into a courthouse with his attorney Joseph Murtha for jury selection in his trial, Nov. 30, 2015, in Baltimore.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has urged city residents to stay calm and accept the verdict.

Violence broke out on the day of Gray's funeral in April; there was looting, fires were set, and rocks and bottles were thrown at police. Baltimore's black leaders said the riots were not just about Gray but also about what they said has been a city government that has long ignored the needs of poor African-American neighborhoods.

Gray, who had been in trouble with the law in the past, was arrested in April for reasons that are still not entirely clear. Some police officers said he was carrying a knife, but prosecutors said there was no legal basis for taking him into custody.

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