Advertisement

First trial of Baltimore police officer in Freddie Gray death begins

Officer William G. Porter's trial will begin with jury selection.

By
Ed Adamczyk
Demonstrators march to protest the death of Freddie Gray on April 29 in Baltimore. Freddie Gray died after suffering a spinal injury while being arrested by Baltimore City Police earlier this month. The first trial of police officers allegedly involved in his death begins Monday. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Demonstrators march to protest the death of Freddie Gray on April 29 in Baltimore. Freddie Gray died after suffering a spinal injury while being arrested by Baltimore City Police earlier this month. The first trial of police officers allegedly involved in his death begins Monday. File photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

BALTIMORE, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The trial for the first of six Baltimore police officers charged in the April death of Freddie Gray is set to begin Monday with jury selection.

William G. Porter, 26, will be the first officer to stand trial, in individual cases for each of the accused. The trials are expected to be closely watched as the death of 25-year-old Gray from a spinal injury allegedly sustained while shackled in the back of a police van is at the forefront of nationwide outcry over police brutality against black men detained by police.

Advertisement

A week of protests and some rioting broke out in Baltimore after Gray's death, and the quick announcement of criminal charges against the police officers surprised the nation.

Judge Barry G. Williams said 75 to 80 prospective jurors were expected for Monday's screening. It is unclear when opening arguments will begin, or how long the trial is expected to last.

RELATED Protesters shut down Chicago shopping district, demand federal probe in McDonald shooting

"We just want fairness and justice for Freddie Gray in a legal, calm way, and the courtroom is where it's happening. We want the prosecutors to do the right thing and continue to press forward and get results. This is a different day for Baltimore citizens, to have police go to trial," said Tessa Hill-Alston, president of the NAACP local chapter. "This is a monumental thing."

Advertisement

The group intends to have an observer in the courtroom throughout the trial.

Court documents indicate Porter placed Gray in the back seat of the police van, shackled but not restrained in the vehicle by a seat belt or other device. Porter left to assist in another arrest, then returned to the van. After the van drove for about 45 minutes, Gray was found unresponsive. He died a week later from a severe spinal cord injury.

RELATED Arrests made after five protesters shot near Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis

Prosecutors say Porter should have sought medical attention for Gray. Porter is charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, as has pleaded not guilty. The city of Baltimore has agreed to a $6.4 million civil settlement to Gray's family.

RELATED Freddie Gray case will not be moved out of Baltimore, judge rules

RELATED 50 years after Watts Riots, police and race again at forefront

Latest Headlines