Justice Is Postponed in the Death of Freddie Gray

The judge declared a mistrial after jurors deadlocked on all charges against one of the officers involved.

Officer William PorterAssociated Press

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


On Wednesday, Judge Barry G. Williams declared a mistrial in the trial of William Porter, the first of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Gray died in April from injuries suffered after Baltimore police left him unbuckled but shackled in the back of a police van during a ride to a booking station, sparking turbulent protests throughout the city.

Jurors said on Wednesday that they were deadlocked on all counts. Porter had pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault, involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office. After deliberating for about a day, jurors had told the court that they were deadlocked; the judge instructed them to continue to try to reach a unanimous verdict. It didn’t happen.

Prosecutors argued that Porter criminally neglected his duties by failing to buckle Gray into a seat, or to get him medical attention when it was clear that he needed it. But Porter’s lawyers said it was the driver’s responsibility to make sure Gray was buckled in, and that Porter fulfilled his responsibility to Gray’s safety when he told his supervisor that Gray needed to go to the hospital.

City officials were again on edge as Baltimore awaited a verdict. Last April, Mayor Stephanie Rawlins-Blake declared a weeklong curfew and called in the National Guard after riots broke out around the city. Rawlins-Blake issued a statement following the judge’s decision on Wednesday calling on protesters to show “respect for our neighborhoods” and saying that the city was “prepared to respond” to any unrest. 

The Harford and Howard county school districts canceled all field trips to Baltimore this week in anticipation of possible protests. The CEO of Baltimore schools also sent a letter to parents Monday saying he was “very concerned” about how students might respond. The letter drew criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, which said it was wrong to equate students’ desire to demonstrate with potential violence.

Judge Williams is expected to set a date for Porter’s new trial on Thursday. Trials for the other five officers charged in Gray’s death are also expected to begin soon.

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate