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Freddie Gray case: William Porter likely to face June retrial

Posted at 5:19 PM, Dec 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-21 17:19:33-05

William Porter, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, will face a June 13 retrial, said court spokeswoman Allison Akers.

The new date is scheduled to be approved Tuesday morning in a hearing in Judge Barry Williams’ courtroom. Porter’s trial would now follow those of his five fellow officers.

Last week, a jury deadlocked in Porter’s trial, resulting in Williams declaring a mistrial.

Porter was the first officer to go on trial in the closely watched case involving Gray, a 25-year-old black detainee who suffered a fatal neck injury in April after being shackled and placed without a seat belt in a police van. His death set off citywide demonstrations and calls for justice.

Baltimore police Officer William Porter

Baltimore police Officer William Porter

A defense attorney declined to comment on the mistrial, saying he was subject to a court gag order. Porter told CNN he was doing well but couldn’t comment on the case. Prosecutors, who had planned to use testimony from Porter in their cases against the other officers, appeared exasperated.

Gray’s family thanked jurors for their service and asked the public to remain calm. Reading from a statement, Richard Shipley, Gray’s stepfather, told CNN he was hopeful Porter would be retried.

“We thank this hard-working jury for their service to the public, their quest for justice, their personal sacrifice of their time and effort. We are not at all upset with them, neither should the public be upset. They did the best that they could,” he said.

Legal analysts described the mistrial as a major setback for the prosecution that could affect the cases of the other five officers.

“A hung jury is a defeat for the prosecution, especially when they needed Porter to make some of these other cases,” CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said. “Now, it’s not impossible that at least some of these other cases can go to trial without Porter, but his testimony was going to be important.”

Gray’s injury happened as he was being transported after an April 12 arrest. Prosecutors say Porter, one of three black officers charged in the case, was summoned by the van’s driver to check on Gray during stops on the way to a police station.

Prosecutors say he should have called a medic for Gray sooner than one was eventually called and also should have ensured that Gray was wearing a seat belt.

Porter was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. He pleaded not guilty.

During his four-hour testimony last week, Porter said that of the roughly 150 prisoners he has placed in police wagons since joining the Baltimore Police Department in 2010, none was secured with a seat belt — partly out of concern for officers’ safety while in the wagon’s tight quarters.

Prisoners were never secured with seat belts during field training, and though cadets were instructed to secure prisoners with seat belts, they were not shown how, Porter said.