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Judge Declares Mistrial in Freddy Gray Trial

  • VOA Staff

Officer William Porter, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, enters the courthouse during jury deliberations in Baltimore, Dec. 16, 2015.

Officer William Porter, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, enters the courthouse during jury deliberations in Baltimore, Dec. 16, 2015.

A judge in Baltimore, Maryland, has declared a mistrial in the case of police officer William Porter, charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, a young African-American man whose spine was severed in the back of a police van in April.

After three days of deliberations, the jury informed Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams that it could not reach a verdict. Williams thanked the jurors and then dismissed them.

Porter has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct. It is not clear on which of the charges the jury was deadlocked.

It is also unclear what happens next or how it could affect the upcoming trials of the five other officers charged in Gray's death.

Prosecutors allege Porter, who is also black, and the others officers failed to help Gray, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in the van. Authorities have called the vehicle a "casket on wheels."

Gray was handcuffed and shackled by his feet, but not buckled in the seat, allegedly causing his body to slam against the side of the van, severing his spinal cord and leaving him in a coma.

Prosecutors say Porter ignored Gray's pleas for medical help and abused his power as a police officer.

The defense calls Gray's death a horrible tragedy, but argued that there is no evidence to convict Porter and that there is too much of a reasonable doubt.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake urged city residents to stay calm. On the day of Gray's funeral in April, violence broke out, including arson, looting and rocks and bottles thrown at police.

Baltimore's black leaders say the riots were not just about Gray but also about what they say has been a city government that has long ignored the needs of poor African-American neighborhoods.

Gray, who had been in trouble with the law in the past, was arrested in April for reasons that are still not entirely clear.

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