Baltimore awaits new trial date in policeman’s manslaughter trial
After Freddie Gray Deadlock, Uncertainty for Prosecutors.
BALTIMORE (AP) — The latest on the mistrial for a Baltimore police officer charged with manslaughter in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who was injured in the back of a police transport van (all times local): A court spokeswoman says lawyers have more work to do before setting a date for a possible retrial of Baltimore Police Officer William Porter in the death of Freddie Gray. Lawyers for both sides met privately with Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams for about 30 minutes Thursday, a day after a hung jury prompted Williams to declare a mistrial on all four charges, including manslaughter.
The description of the events that led to Gray’s death highlighted the lack of empathy many people have for poor black communities and their residents, even other black people. Wednesday afternoon, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge declared a mistrial in the case of William Porter, the first of six officers to be tried in connection with Mr.
The situation was quiet at North and Pennsylvania, the intersection where the worst rioting happened in April as parts of West Baltimore were set on fire. At the time, the police commissioner was a black man, the mayor was a black woman and over half of the police department was composed of black officers.
William Porter’s mistrial is a setback for prosecutors trying to respond to a citizenry frustrated by violent crime and allegations of police misconduct. The trial marks the first time an officer has been prosecuted for one of a growing list of police-involved deaths across the nation whose victims have become household names: Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice. Charles Mason III collects musical instrument cases representing coffins of victims of police violence outside of Baltimore City Hall in Baltimore on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. This is significant because unlike Ferguson and many other places that have seen incidents of police brutality, the balance of political power (but not economic resources) and law enforcement is in the hands of black people. Homicides have soared and the pressure on city officials has been unrelenting since Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged six officers in Gray’s death.
In a year when the slogan “Justice for Freddie Gray” has resounded from Baltimore’s roughest blocks to the far reaches of the Internet, the trial highlights the question: What would that justice actually look like? On Thursday, prosecutors and defense lawyers, who are barred from speaking publicly about the case, met with the judge behind closed doors to discuss their next steps in a case that set off protests and rioting last spring amid a national debate over race and policing.
The trial, then, underscores the need for officers to spend time in the vulnerable communities they police doing activities not related to police work, as well as time communicating with the public. About 30 protesters chanting “send those killer cops to jail” outside the courthouse switched gears after the mistrial was announced, chanting “No justice, no peace!” and “Black Lives Matter.” The case hinged not on what Porter did, but what prosecutors said he didn’t do. But court officials said an announcement of a new trial date was not expected on Thursday, creating an uneasy pause in the legal proceedings here and leaving lingering questions about whether the state will seek to push back Officer Goodson’s trial, or decide to retry Officer Porter, 26, after the other five officers. “In some respects, it’s a worst-case scenario,” for the state, said Warren S. There’s some satisfaction just in seeing the judicial process at work, and the fact that jurors must have had strong convictions and stood by them, says J.
Alperstein, a defense lawyer here and a former prosecutor. “If the prosecution is not able to use Porter as a witness, it appears that they are at a significant disadvantage.” As prosecutors weighed their options, Billy Murphy, a lawyer for the Gray family, said he felt certain they would try Officer Porter again, noting that they used their closing arguments to tell jurors he had lied on the witness stand. “Usually when a prosecutor believes a defendant has lied, they feel obliged to go after him again,” Mr. Beyond that, they weren’t able to prove anything,” Levin said. “They proved a tragedy, but I don’t think they proved a crime.” Jurors deliberated for three days over whether Porter committed manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Officers often begin to view the communities they serve by the socially engineered pathology and white supremacist, capitalist-nurtured dysfunction in which they live. Wyndal Gordon, a Baltimore defense attorney who’s attended parts of the Porter trial – and represents two young men facing serious charges that stem from the unrest. “That takes courage in and of itself. [A]s a lawyer, I really appreciate that,” said Mr.
Murphy said, adding the state might go even further, by charging Officer Porter with making false statements to the jury. “Nothing rankles a prosecutor more than obstruction of justice,” he said. But later, the court sent out a note saying the meeting would be in the judge’s chambers. “Protesters who are lawfully assembled have a friend in the Baltimore Police Department,” Commissioner Kevin Davis said. “Folks who choose to commit crimes and break things and hurt people are no longer protesters.” Attorney Billy Murphy, who obtained a $6.4 million settlement for Gray’s family from the city before Porter’s trial, called the mistrial “a temporary bump on the road to justice.” The racially diverse jury of seven men and five women deliberated for about 16 hours over three days. The dehumanizing assumptions made about Gray, based on what he looked like and where he lived, and which led to him being chased in the first place, are of the utmost importance. Now many are wondering what comes next. “I’m not expecting our community to repeat April,” said Erika Alston, a community leader who runs an afterschool program in West Baltimore. “But it is a bit of a kick in the chest.” Prosecutors said Porter shares blame for Gray’s death on April 19 because he didn’t call an ambulance when Gray said he needed to go to the hospital, nor did he buckle Gray into a seat belt that would have prevented him from being injured inside the metal compartment if the van turned sharply or braked suddenly. Davon Neverdon, a lifelong Baltimorean and community activist known as PFK Boom, said that, while he wasn’t satisfied with the result of the trial, he wasn’t surprised. “This is what you get.
Porter told jurors he didn’t think Gray was injured when he lifted him from the van’s floor to the bench, and that buckling him in wasn’t his responsibility. I suspect this is why media outlets, both conservative and liberal cheered when they saw “Baltimore mom” Toya Graham repeatedly punch and slap her son in the head.
For her, she said, the question of justice for Freddie Gray is bigger than a single trial, or even six of them. “Because how can you be an enforcer of the law, and then you not be held to the same standard of the law as I as a citizen? It’s really about accountability within the system,” she says. “Even if the desired outcome comes, it’s not justice until it becomes consistent.” As jury deliberations in Mr.
I refuse to judge Ms Graham’s actions, as she was just taking desperate measures to keep her son safe, and has endured challenges many of us probably can’t fathom. Porter’s trial entered their third day yesterday morning, city officials were bracing for a repeat of the destruction, looting, and arson that dotted the city last April, following Gray’s death. It’s one of six.” Activist Duane “Shorty” Davis accused the prosecution of deliberately putting on a weak case to preserve its relationship with the police. “They’re not going to eat their own,” he said. Gray, but that he had nevertheless told the driver of the van, Officer Goodson, who had custody of (and thus, they said, primary responsibility for) Mr.
Gray was arrested while fleeing from officers and died April 19, a week after his neck was broken inside a police van as a seven-block trip to the station turned into a 45-minute journey around West Baltimore. The mistrial may complicate this strategy, since Porter has a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself, according to attorney Warren Alperstein. While some think simply recruiting officers of color will change things, Baltimore has forced everyone to recognize that the media racial narrative of the white cop abusing his power in a black community is far too unsophisticated.
Options could include granting Porter immunity in exchange for his testimony, trying to persuade the judge to postpone the other trials while retrying Porter, or striking him from their witness list altogether. University of Maryland law school professor Douglas Colbert said Thursday that “because of the strength of the prosecution’s evidence, Officer Porter must give serious consideration to what’s best for him. That includes consideration of negotiations and seeking immunity.” Colbert says that unless prosecutors are determined to retry Porter, they’d likely prefer a plea bargain over granting him immunity from prosecution.
Prosecution of police officers is never easy, but when you look at some of the facts in this case, you’ve got to understand nothing here is a slam dunk,” Harris said. “We are not at all upset with them and neither should the public be upset,” Shipley said Wednesday. “They did the best that they could. … Davis’s desire to “change mindsets” of law enforcement officials in the city is admirable, but it is an uphill battle, after years of poor relations. Alperstein, adding that prosecutors may be forced to consider whether to “dismiss the case against Porter and just grant him immunity to compel him to testify.” David Jaros, an assistant professor of law at the University of Baltimore who has been following the case, said the mistrial “further complicates an already complicated argument by the state” to get Officer Porter on the stand in Goodson’s trial. “Officer Porter could make a credible argument that he still faces potential civil rights charges,” Mr. He was a victim of the inadequate housing for the impoverished residents of Baltimore; housing that resulted in him having elevated levels of lead in his bloodstream.
We are confident there will be another trial with a new jury.” Associated Press writers David Dishneau and Brian Witte in Baltimore, Ben Nuckols in Washington and Randall Chase in Dover, Delaware, contributed to this report. Yet, the rightwing media insist it was his own fault and argued that the frustrations of the people involved in the protests and unrest, which were carried out in the spring without a single fatality, were due to their own depravity and lack of decency. One was Darius Kwame Rosebaugh, known as Kwame Rose, a local activist who landed in the national spotlight last spring after he confronted Geraldo Rivera about his coverage of Baltimore. Both young men had been vocally protesting near sheriff’s deputies, but videos and witness accounts did not reveal the basis for either arrest. “What I’m clear about is that a mistrial ain’t worth people putting their lives on the line,” said activist J.C.
Levi, an assistant public defender in Baltimore, said she thought Officer Porter’s lawyers would look to shore up any holes in their argument. “They’re probably going to want to lead more with something else, maybe lead more with what a good person he was, rather than the low expectations of all the officers,” said Ms.
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