Justice hangs in the balance after a judge declared a mistrial in the first case against an officer involved in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray this past April.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to stand trial was William G. Porter. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office for refusing to call a medic upon Gray’s request and not buckling Gray into the police van where he sustained his fatal spinal cord injury.
After 16 hours of deliberation, however, the jury of seven women and five men remained in a deadlock, the New York Times reported.
“This saga is not over,” Gray’s family attorney Bill Murphy told the Baltimore Sun. “This hung jury does not mean it’s the end of Officer Porter’s case. It’s just a bump on the road to justice. And you know the road to justice has a lot of bumps.”
But all eyes are on District Attorney Marilyn Mosby to see how rocky the road will be.
During the trial, Mosby failed to disclose that Gray had sustained a prior back injury a month before the arrest, a detail that undermined the prosecution’s case and provided just enough doubt to make it less likely for Porter to be found a specifically responsible for the circumstances of Gray’s death.
Porter was positioned as the first officer to stand trial because he is necessary as a material witness to the prosecutions case against Caesar R. Goodson, Jr., the next officer to stand trial on January 6. Goodson is the officer who drove the van, and who refused to give Gray assistance after Porter relayed Gray’s request to him.
Without finding fault in Porter’s actions, there is doubt that responsibility will be extended.
“I’m stunned,” 20-year-old Jazmin Holloway told the Baltimore Sun. “I’m speechless. When are we going to get justice?”
Goodson carries the most severe charges, seven in total: second-degree “depraved-heart” murder; manslaughter; second-degree assault; manslaughter by auto (gross-negligence); manslaughter by vehicle (criminal negligence); misconduct in office; reckless endangerment.
Mosby will decide whether to retry the case against Porter or proceed with the others, but a ripple effect has already been set in motion, one that positions these cases as yet more instances in which officers evade conviction rather than the outliers of accountability Mosby promised.
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