Baltimore on Edge as Trial of First Officer Charged in Freddie Gray’s Death Comes to a Close

Officer William Porter arrives in Baltimore court for the first day of trials in the Freddie Gray case.

Officer William Porter arrives in Baltimore court for the first day of trials in the Freddie Gray case.

The trial of Baltimore officer William Porter, the first of the so-called “Baltimore 6,” is coming to a close, according to several media reports.

Porter is one of six Baltimore cops indicted for the death of Freddie Gray. Gray died from spinal cord injuries after he was left unsecured while a police van was driven at high speeds and made sudden stops. He died a week after he was hospitalized. His death set off protests in Baltimore, which were halted after Gov. Larry Hogan called out the National Guard.

Prosecutors say Porter failed to provide medical treatment to Gray. He is facing manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges. The Baltimore Sun reports that the jury is scheduled to hear closing arguments on Monday and then deliberate on a decision. Judge Barry G. Williams, who said the trial would not go beyond Dec. 17, outlined instructions to a 12-person jury today.

Porter’s defense team has tried to portray him as a well-meaning cop, who got caught up with a group of reckless officers. According to CNN, Porter’s mother, Helena, described him as a “nice (and) honest guy.”

“He likes to keep the peace,” she said. “He’s the peacemaker.”

Testifying for the defense, Baltimore Police Capt. Justin Reynolds also defended Porter’s actions. Reynold’s argued that Porter should not be held liable for Gray’s death, because he was not the transporting officer. The transporting officer is responsible for the prisoner taken into custody, Reynold said.

“He went beyond what he could have and still kept within the policy,” said Reynolds in court testimony.

However, prosecutor Jan Bledsoe said Porter sealed Gray’s death when he denied him medical treatment.

“When Officer Porter failed to call for a medic, when that van door closed, that wagon became [Gray’s] casket on wheels,” said Bledsoe.

The City of Baltimore is trying to prevent a recurrence of the violence that occurred when news got out of Gray’s death. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, and Police ommissioner, Kevin Davis held a press conference last week urging the community to remain calm, no matter the decision.

The Baltimore Police Department is also preparing for reaction to the Porter trial and has cancelled leave for officers this week. All officers have been ordered to work 12-hour shifts, according to The Sun. Residents of Freddie Gray’s old neighborhood are skeptical that the officers will be disciplined. They were concerned that if some of the officers were not punished it could lead to more violence.

“I feel like I know how the trial going to go. Around the nation, we watching a lot of officers get off on other cases,” said local resident Ricky McCarter in a New York Times interview. “So we kind of expect them to get off.”

Travis Mosley, who lives near where Gray was arrested, said all six officers need to be punished.

“My expectation is that, I hope, that everyone gets convicted of something,” Moseley told The New York Times. “I know that there’s varying degrees of what everyone did on that day, but they all were together, and I think they all should be punished.”

The other five officers go on trial next year.

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