Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Baltimore Holds Breath as First Trial of Officers Charged in Death of Gray Begins

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Baltimore Holds Breath as First Trial of Officers Charged in Death of Gray Begins

Article excerpt

The jury has been selected, and the trial is set for Baltimore police Officer William Porter, one of the six officers who will each be tried individually for the death of Freddie Gray, a young black man who died as a result of injuries suffered while in police custody.

Mr. Porter, and his fellow defendants, will likely face two separate juries this month: the official panel expected to be seated in the jury box on Wednesday and the broader public of Baltimore, a large portion of which sees this trial as emblematic of a systemic issue of disparities in policing the city's black residents. For many activists, the fact that prosecutors have filed charges against six officers is just one small step toward justice; And the ongoing demonstrations that have taken place during jury selection of this first trial is evidence that they will be watching what happens very critically.

The fact that Porter, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, is also black complicates the narrative that Mr. Gray's treatment was a result of his skin color. However, in the eyes of many activists, Porter's race underscores a systemic racial bias in the Baltimore Police Department.

Porter has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, second- degree assault, misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment. The prosecution says that Porter failed to provide medical support to Gray even though he repeatedly asked for it. Porter checked on Gray several times while he was in police custody, but did not call for medical aid even though Gray appeared to be suffering, according to prosecutors.

The combined charges could carry a total prison term of 25 years. The other officers in the case have been charged with misconduct and second-degree murder, among other allegations.

Many in Baltimore appear uneasy leading up to the trial. A verdict could carry enormous weight for the city in either direction. …

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