Circuit Judge Barry Williams declared a mistrial yesterday in the case of Baltimore Police Officer William G. Porter after jurors failed to reach a unanimous decision on any charges in the death of Freddie Gray. The jury deliberated for 3 days before coming back to the judge and telling him that they hopelessly deadlocked. Officer William G. Porter the first of six police officers to be tried in Gray’s death, remains charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. However, this is quite a setback to the prosecution and activists. The usual rule of thought when prosecutors are trying multiple individuals, is that the first one out of the box is a slam dunk and your best case. So to set the tone and momentum going into the next trials. Officer Porter is not out of the woods yet, the prosecution will meet to reschedule this trial and will result in the other trials to be pushed back.
Probably one of the best things that was done in this case and may have quelled the violence of a mistrial was the gag order that was put in place and still remains. Thankfully, no one could rush to the media and incite turmoil demagogging the case.
The six Baltimore police officer arrested, Officer William Porter, upper left
A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in the case of Baltimore Police Officer William G. Porter after jurors said they had failed to reach an agreement on any of the charges against him in the death of Freddie Gray.
The decision, which came a day after jurors told Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams they were deadlocked, frustrated activists who had watched the first trial in Gray’s death closely. Outside the downtown courtroom, city officials and community leaders pleaded for calm, and authorities reported two arrests, but no violence or serious disruptions.
Porter, 26, the first of six police officers to be tried in Gray’s death, remains charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Gray, 25, died in April after suffering a severe spinal cord injury in the back of a police van.
Some thoughts from Powerline and I have to agree 100%; however, this just shows how divided individuals have become where even the obvious cannot be agreed upon.
I have a few thoughts about the case. First, it’s a sad commentary that the jury couldn’t find Porter not guilty of the most severe charges against him. Judge Williams instructed the jury that to find Porter guilty of involuntary manslaughter it would have to conclude, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Porter acted in a “grossly negligent manner” and that his conduct was a “gross departure” from what a “reasonable police officer” in a similar situation would do.
I don’t think the evidence remotely sustains a finding of gross departure. The testimony of the former Baltimore police chief and of current officers contradicted it.
To find Porter guilty of of misconduct in office required a finding that Porter “corruptly failed to do an act required by his duties” and that it was “not a mere error in judgment” but involved an “evil motive and bad faith.” This too seems far-fetched based on the evidence as reported by the press.