‘The future of the city is at stake’ as Baltimore readies for 1st Freddie Gray …

30 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Baltimore police, Penn North residents play football game heavy on symbolism.

But, on Sunday, city Police Commissioner Kevin Davis asked his officers to break with tradition and gather on the same side of the field with members of a Penn North team before a police-community game designed to defuse tensions between the department and residents during a critical time. On the eve of the first trial of a Baltimore police officer in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, the symbolism was simply too overpowering to have the players line up any other way. “Having this football game on the eve of the first trial is more than symbolic,” said Davis, who encouraged residents and officers to stand together and exchange football-related banter during what organizers billed as the “Unity Bowl” flag-football game at Frederick Douglass High School. William Porter, the first to stand trial, is charged with manslaughter and misconduct in office. “The fundamental question as to whether it was a homicide is usually a pretty straightforward question in most cases. The proceedings, which will begin with jury selection, could have significant implications for the city and for the five other officers slated to be tried consecutively over the next several months, experts said.

The area around the high school, which is across the street from Mondawmin Mall, was the scene of violent exchanges between teens and police officers on April 27 following the death of Gray in police custody. In this case, it’s not a straightforward question,” said attorney Adam Ruther. “The van itself will certainly be an important piece of evidence. The Baltimore trials have gained national prominence as activists have sought to bring attention to police brutality and to the lack of charges in other cases where young black men have been killed, including Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Gray was from Sandtown-Winchester, which was also represented by players in Sunday’s game. “We’re getting to know each other in a different way,” said Davis, appointed to lead the department in July after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake fired his predecessor, Anthony W.

The NAACP’s local chapter, for example, plans to have a “court watcher” in attendance throughout the trial, which could last weeks. “We just want fairness and justice for Freddie Gray in a legal, calm way, and the courtroom is where it’s happening,” said Tessa Hill-Alston, the chapter’s president. “We want the prosecutors to do the right thing and continue to press forward and get results.” Gray, 25, was arrested in West Baltimore on April 12 and driven around in the back of a police transport van for about 45 minutes before arriving at the Western District police station, where he was found to be unresponsive. Gray suffered his injuries in an environment where there were no cameras, no witnesses, the state is going to have to prove its case by and large by circumstantial evidence and the testimony of experts,” Ruther said. “The way the state presents the evidence is going to be something the defense is going to be very interested in because it gives them a preview that they wouldn’t normally get as to how they should organize their defense when it’s time for their trial to go forward,” Ruther said.

Former Baltimore Colts great Lenny Moore performed a ceremonial coin toss. “Whether the city is here in the stands right now doesn’t matter,” Davis told members of both teams in a huddle at midfield before the game. “The city is watching us. The charges were condemned at the time by police union officials as a “rush to judgment.” Mosby’s office would later credit the decision with restoring order “before the entire city became an armed camp or was burned to the ground.” Porter, who is expected to take the stand, was present at multiple stops of the transport van in which Gray was injured, and prosecutors allege he should have sought medical attention. The Baltimore Sun has previously reported that, according to a police review of Porter’s statement to detectives, Porter mentioned not being sure whether Gray was faking his injury.

The proceedings Monday will start with the search for a panel of city jurors who can be impartial — forgetting everything they’ve heard about the highly publicized case and dismissing any emotions about its impact on the city or their own neighborhoods. Judge Barry Williams has said the only way to find out is to call potential city jurors to the court and ask them during the jury selection process, known as voir dire, if they can be fair. I know he will uphold the highest standards.” “We’re having constant conversations and planning sessions,” she said. “The police have set up a joint information center.

She said businesses like CVS and Rite-Aid, which are rebuilding after their pharmacies were looted and destroyed in April, have shown good faith in returning and are important resources for elderly residents and others. Hill-Alston said residents have the right to vent their frustrations through peaceful protesting during and after the trial, but she urged them to remember that Porter’s trial does not represent the totality of the state’s case in Gray’s death. “There are six trials and I think that we have to take a look at each one, because one may turn out one way and one may turn out another way,” she said.

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