A Baltimore judge has delayed the first trial of six local police officers who have been charged with the murder of Freddie Gray, according to news reports. Gray was a 25-year-old Baltimore man who was killed after being left unsecured in a police van driven at high speeds. His death led to several days of rioting, which only ceased after Gov. Larry Hogan called out the National Guard.
The trial of officer William Porter has been pushed back from Oct. 13 to Nov. 30, reported USA Today. Porter has been charged with manslaughter, reckless endangerment and assault. Prosecutors hope to use Porter as a key witness in the trials of the other officers, which have been scheduled for 2016. Defense lawyers had requested the delay because they needed more time to prepare, since they had just been provided with additional information by prosecutors.
The Baltimore Sun said Porter was a “straight-arrow kid” who still lived with his parents. The charges stem from the fact that Porter didn’t provide medical help to Gray. He also put Gray in the back of the police van without securing him, which was a violation of police policy.
Baltimore defense attorney Jason Ott told USA Today, there was a lot of pressure on the prosecution, led by Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, to secure a conviction.
“You know what will happen to this city if they don’t get convictions,” Ott said. “They need that magical word of guilty.”
Ott added another challenge for the case is trying to find impartial local jurors. He said jurors would be under pressure to vote for a conviction because they fear that a not-guilty verdict might lead to further rioting.
“That has to be weighing on your mind as a juror,” he said. “The truth is, this case isn’t just about the Baltimore six. It’s about the aftermath.”
Of all six officers, Caesar Goodson Jr., the van driver, faces the most serious charge. He is facing a “second-degree depraved heart” murder charge. Prosecutors claim he deliberately drove the police van at high speeds and made sudden stops, which were designed to injure Gray. The process is known as “rough riding.” Goodson’s trial has been scheduled for Jan. 6.
Gray’s spinal cord was severed and he died a week after his arrest. The city of Baltimore recently paid his family a $6.4 million civil settlement.