Freddie Gray's Family Responds To The Mistrial Of Officer Porter With Optimism For What Will Come Next
After the first trial regarding the death of Freddie Gray, a 25 year-old man who died in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department in April, technically ended on Wednesday afternoon, Freddie Gray's family responded to Officer William Porter's mistrial, which was declared after a hung jury. Porter could face a retrial on charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, to which he plead not guilty when the trial began.
The Gray family attorney, Billy Murphy, spoke on behalf of the family, expressing optimism for the future and trust in the criminal justice system. In a press conference, Murphy said:
The people who say this is not justice simply don't understand how the process works. This is just a temporary bump on the road to justice. It happens. It's part of how the system works.
He continued by saying that the family is not angry about the mistrial, which means that no one else has the right to be angry, as the "family has a bigger stake in this than everyone else." Gray's family just wants everyone to remain calm and take the time to understand what happened and what the mistrial means – that 12 people couldn't reach a verdict. However, the family did express hope that Porter is retried soon.
This is a very important stage in the case. This says nothing about whether a verdict can be reached in a second trial ... We can't predict what a jury is going to do based on a hung jury.
Gray suffered a broken neck during a ride in a police wagon, in which he was not secured with a seat belt. He died one week after sustaining the injury, and his death was ruled a homicide by the county medical examiner. On May 1, six officers were arrested and charged in relation to Gray's death, among them, William Porter.
But Porter's trial is far from being officially concluded now, and the city is bracing for renewed violence. The initial public reaction to the case led to weeks of organized protests and rioting, so Baltimore police anticipated some civil unrest following the decision of the court. Director of media relations for the polide department T.J. Smith posted a full statement on Twitter last week, announcing that Police Commissioner Kevin Davis had suspended leave for officers this week and extended shifts from 10 hours to 12.
Murphy said that the family is only disappointed that there was no verdict Wednesday afternoon. "The family's position has always been that they want justice," he said. Murphy asked protestors to remain calm and not speculate on what will happen next because "there's too much at stake." He said the "hot heads out there ought to stand down, because it's not your time."
In the wake of Porter's mistrial, prosecutors will declare a new date for the retrial, and the other five officers' fates should follow suit. Lieutenant Brian Rice, Sergeant Alicia White, and Officers Garrett Miller, Edward Nero, and Caesar Goodson each face a variety of charges including manslaughter, assault, false imprisonment, and misconduct in office, and each have pleaded not guilty. If convicted, they could face up to 25 years in prison.
For now, Gray's family is continuing to hope for justice for their lost loved one. The very last trial is scheduled to begin in March, so with Porter's trial ending in a hung jury, there is still a long road ahead.