Baltimore Police & Officials Have Plan In Place For Porter Trial Verdict

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Following deadlock, Baltimore jury resumes deliberations for third day in trial of officer accused in Freddie Gray’s death.

A Baltimore jury resumed its deliberations for a third day, one day after announcing a deadlock in the trial of the first police officer to stand trial over the death of Freddie Gray.

The city of Baltimore was bracing for a verdict as closing arguments were planned Monday from defense lawyers for a police officer who say he did nothing wrong the day Freddie Gray was arrested and died. City officials are fearful that the verdict in the William Porter case could potentially reignite riots, which were sparked by Gray’s death after he was fatally injured in police custody in April. Prosecutors paint him as an indifferent officer who denied the Gray medical care in the police wagon where he suffered a spinal injury that killed him.

Porter faces charges of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. (Mark Wilson/Pool Photo via AP) Prosecutors say Porter is partly responsible for failing to buckle Gray into a seatbelt and for not calling an ambulance when Gray indicated he was in distress. One signs states “justice for Freddie Gray — convict the killer cops and send them to jail!” Other placards show Gray’s image, highlighting a death that has fueled heated discourse about police treatment and civil rights. Porter told jurors he didn’t call a medic because Gray didn’t show signs of injury, pain or distress and said only “yes” when Porter offered to take him to the hospital. Earlier Tuesday, jurors requested highlighters, an easel and sticky notes, suggesting a businesslike approach to assessing Porter’s role in Gray’s arrest and death.

Attorney Joseph Murtha called Gray’s April death a “horrific tragedy” but said that “there is literally no evidence” that Porter’s actions caused Gray’s fatal injuries. The police department canceled leave for all officers this week while Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake opened an emergency operations center and pleaded for calm. Porter is the first of six officers to go to trial for charges stemming from Gray’s injury and death, and it likely will set the tone for the others and for the city’s healing. Gray’s death prompted protests and rioting in Baltimore and his name became a rallying cry in the national conversation about the fractured relationship between the police and the public, particularly poor black men, in America’s cities. But the Maryland Transportation Administration warned bus and rail riders that route diversions were possible if protests clog the city. “MTA is closely monitoring the Officer Porter trial and travel conditions downtown and will adjust services as necessary due to the potential for heavy pedestrian and/or vehicular traffic,” MTA said in a statement.

As the verdict looms in the most high-stakes and high-profile case in the city’s recent history, Baltimore officials are taking pre-emptive measures. “Whatever the verdict, we need everyone in our city to respect the judicial process,” Rawlings-Blake said. “We need everyone visiting our city to respect Baltimore.” Porter, who is black, is accused of failing to secure the shackled Gray into the seat belt of a police van and then failing to immediately seek medical assistance for Gray when he requested it.

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