Baltimore Police Officer William Porter will be retried for his role in the death of Freddie Gray — a 25-year-old black man who died in April of a spinal cord injury that prosecutors say can be traced to police misconduct. The trial is set for June 13 of next year. Last week a jury failed to reach agreement on whether the officer was guilty of involuntary manslaughter, assault, endangerment and misconduct.
The 26-year-old Porter, who is also black, was the first of six police officers to be tried in Gray’s death. Gray was arrested for fleeing the police. He was subsequently put in a transport van, shackled and handcuffed, but not secured by a seat belt, in violation of department policy. Prosecutors say Porter was derelict in his duty by not seat-belting Gray and that he should have sought medical treatment for him after Gray told him he was in distress.
As NPR’s Jennifer Ludden has reported:
“This issue isn’t new. There are a number of previous instances in Baltimore of people dying or becoming paralyzed after riding in Baltimore Police vans without being seat-belted.”
The trial of Officer Caesar R. Goodson, who faces the most serious charge, second-degree murder, remains on track to begin Jan. 6.
Gray died one week after being taken into police custody. Afterward, Baltimore erupted in the worst protests since the death of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
Last week’s hung jury complicates the way forward for the prosecution. As The Baltimore Sun reports,
“With charges still hanging over his head after a mistrial last week, Porter would most likely assert his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination if called as a witness against Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., whose trial remains scheduled for early January.
“That means prosecutors face an uphill battle to introduce Porter’s statements to investigators or his testimony on the witness stand from his own trial, and will have to give heavy consideration to granting Porter immunity, legal experts said.”