Crisis mediation group plans to open up sites in Baltimore after first Freddie …

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Following deadlock, Baltimore jury resumes deliberations.

BALTIMORE (AP) — A Baltimore jury is deliberating again, a day after announcing a deadlock in case 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.Jury announced the split after conferring among themselves for nine hours, but they did not indicate whether they were divided on some or all of the four charges against Officer William Porter. 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 is charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office in the April 19 death of Gray, who died a week after his neck was broken during a ride in the back of a police van. Prosecutors say Porter is partially responsible for the death because he didn’t call for an ambulance when Gray indicated he needed medical aid and because he ignored a departmental policy requiring officers to buckle prisoners in seat belts. If a jury cannot decide on a verdict, legal experts said, a mistrial is the most likely outcome, and prosecutors would have to decide whether to try Porter again. 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. 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. 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.” Cummings, D-Maryland, who tried to calm the streets in April, urged residents to remain peaceful should Porter be acquitted. “We will all be on trial in the days and weeks ahead,” he said. “Our future as a more just community will depend more upon our actions than it will upon the decision of Officer Porter’s jury.” A practising lawyer for two decades before he became a congressman, Cummings said that the judicial system was working as well as it can.

Dozens of officers, some in tactical gear and with an armored vehicle, massed in a park about a mile from the scene of the heaviest damage during the spring riots. Bishop Angel Núñez of the Bilingual Christian Church wants hundreds to turn out at “ground zero,” the intersection of Pennsylvania and North avenues where a CVS burned in April, once a verdict is announced. “You’re frustrated, so are we. You want justice, so do we,” Núñez said. “You may want to destroy something, but we’re not going to let you do that.” The Baltimore Police Department banned officers from taking leave this week, and area schools postponed or canceled field trips. Area school officials sent letters to parents warning that students will be punished if they walk out of class or participate in “vandalism, civil disorder, and any form of violence,” and city officials opened emergency operations centres.

Staci Pipkin, a criminal defence lawyer and former prosecutor, said Porter’s case could be headed for a mistrial if jurors cannot make a unanimous decision, but a partial verdict is also a possibility. Pipkin said partial verdicts are rare and would be highly unlikely in this case, given its high-profile nature and how it could impact the remaining five trials. “It is a very highly charged case,” Pipkin said. “It is a very odd case legally.

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