Closing statements were delivered on Monday in the trial of Baltimore Police Officer William G. Porter. The 26-year-old faced one count of involuntary manslaughter, one count of second degree assault, one count of reckless endangerment, and one count of misconduct in office. Porter was named as one of six officers charged in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who reportedly suffered a fatal spinal cord injury in the back of a police van on April 12. The injury led to his death just one week later. After several days of deliberation, the jury delivered their verdict and William G. Porter's trial was declared a mistrial by the presiding judge with the jury unable to reach a verdict on any of the counts.
"As a unified city, we must respect the outcome of the judicial process," Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement immediately after the decision. "In the coming days, if some choose to demonstrate peacefully to express their opinion, that is their constitutional right. I urge everyone to remember that collectively, our reaction needs to be one of respect for the neighborhoods, and for the residents and businesses of this city."
Porter's mother and a handful of friends testified on his behalf, stating that he was upstanding and peaceful. BPD Capt. Justin Reynolds claimed that Porter had gone above and beyond his duties by simply asking Gray what was wrong during his transport and implicated the van driver in Gray's injuries. The driver — Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr. — faces the most charges out of all six cops, including one count of vehicular manslaughter and one count of second-degree depraved heart murder. Two medical experts who were called to the witness stand by the state had testified that Porter hadn't gone far enough and that, had he called for a medic the first time that Gray requested one, the Baltimore native may have been saved.
Porter is the first of his colleagues to face trial, but will not be the last. All six officers were placed on unpaid leave on May 1 following their indictments. He was not at the scene when officers approached Gray, who was reportedly arrested after attempting to flee on foot following a suspected drug deal. Porter instead connected with the van on two out of six stops that the van had made. Gray had been handcuffed and shackled but was not wearing a seatbelt. Unfortunately, Gray is not the first person to be harmed while riding in the back of a police van and the issue was previously prevalent enough for lawsuits to be filed against the Baltimore Police Department.