The first of six police officers has gone to trial over the death of young African American Freddie Gray. Unable to find a consensus, the jury will now have to deliberate for a third straight day.
The Baltimore jury deliberating over a police officer involved in the death of Freddie Gray declared themselves to be at an impasse on Tuesday. After a second day of discussion, the jury could not determine if William Porter was guilty of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and assault.
Gray died in April at age 25 as the result of a spinal injury incurred when he was handcuffed, but not properly secured, in the back of a police car. He had been arrested for what an officer alleged was an illegal switchblade. The death of the young African American as a result of mistreatment while in police custody, and the case highlighted growing concern with police brutality towards black Americans.
Charges of murder, false arrest
Anger over Gray's death sparked massive protests in Baltimore, Maryland, and the city's State Attorney Marliyn Mosby charged Porter, who is also African American, and five of his colleagues on charges ranging from second-degree murder to false arrest. The latter charge stems from allegations that the officers did not know Gray illegally possessed a knife at the time of his arrest, and detained him at first without probable cause.
Porter's is the first of the six trials. His defense team argued that the state did not provide adequate proof that their client was culpable for Gray's injuries and subsequent death.
In the middle of the second day of deliberations, the 12 jurors went to Judge Barry Williams to say they were unable to break their deadlock, but he ordered them to resume discussion. They will continue their work on Wednesday.
Baltimore prepares for protests
In preparation for unrest in the case of a not guilty verdict, Baltimore security officers were setting up safety procedures on Tuesday. The Baltimore Sheriff's Office said it had obtained a "special event" permit to clear the sidewalk in front of the courthouse, frustrating some civil liberties advocates.
Maryland State Police stationed officers and vehicles at strategic parts of the city, but city police spokesman T.J. Smith was at pains to downplay reports of armored vehicles and officers wearing helmets and shields. Smith told "The Baltimore Sun" that this was "not the visual we want to portray," and that for him it was important to keep "assisting agencies" out of sight so as not to "raise anxieties."
es/gsw (AP, AFP)