Wednesday, a mistrial was declared in the case of Baltimore police officer William Porter. Jurors said they could not reach a decision in the first of the trials of the six officers who are charged in the death of Freddie Gray.
Gray’s family pleaded with the public to “remain calm” after the mistrial was declared. Gray’s stepfather, Richard Shipley, said in a statement that he is hopeful Porter will be retried.
“We ask the public to remain calm, patient, because we are confident there will be another trial, and a different jury,” he said. “If we are calm, you should be calm.”
Porter, a Black officer on the force since 2012, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. Prosecutors must decide whether he will be retried.
Porter reportedly asked Gray whether he needed medical assistance after he was injured in the police van, and Gray replied that he did. Porter is accused of helping to place the 25-year-old Gray into the van, where he sustained a spinal injury, but did not call for a medic to help him.
“This is our American system of justice,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement posted on her official Twitter account. “Twelve Baltimore residents listened to the evidence presented and were unable to render a unanimous decision. As a unified city, we must respect the outcome of the judicial process. In the coming days, if some choose to demonstrate peacefully to express their opinion, that is their constitutional right.”
Earlier this week, jurors told the judge they were deadlocked and could not make a decision. The judge told them to continue deliberating.
Reports indicate that Baltimore had prepared for the outcome of the trial. Police were reportedly on the scene outside of the courthouse in response to the mistral decision. Peaceful demonstrations began shortly after the announcement, with a few people being detained.
“Whether you like the decision or not, the Baltimore City NAACP calls for frustration and anger to be controlled and the rights of all people respected, on all sides,” Baltimore City NAACP President Tessa Hill-Aston said in a statement. “We must be guided by our own sense of what must happen next for Baltimore, guided by the tangible sense of frustration and anger held by so many city residents and guided by the fact that there remains five officers to stand trial for the death of Freddie Gray.”
Grassroots organization Baltimore Bloc urged people to gather at Baltimore City Hall for a protest in the aftermath of the outcome.
“Baltimore Bloc has repeatedly called for justice, which will only be served if Porter is convicted on all charges.” said Michaela Brown, communications coordinator of Baltimore Bloc. “We call on State’s Attorney Mosby to move quickly to retry Porter. This is not over. Freddie Gray was treated as less than human and killed in police custody. Anything less than convicting Porter on all charges confirms that our criminal justice system does not value Black lives. The system is structured to protect those with privileges from those who lack it. There is no doubt that a conviction should have happened. We will get another day in court.”
Because of the gag order that pertains to all cases related to Freddie Gray, the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City was not able to make any comments.