BALTIMORE (AP) — A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday after jurors couldn’t reach a decision in the manslaughter trial of a Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, whose injury in police custody sparked weeks of protests and fueled the nation’s scrutiny of how police treat black suspects.
William Porter’s trial was the first test of prosecutors’ case against six officers in a city struggling to rein in violent crime. The case hinged not on what Porter did, but what prosecutors said he didn’t do. He was accused of failing to get medical help for a critically wounded Gray and was charged with manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
The charges carried maximum prison terms totaling 25 years. It was not immediately clear whether Porter would be tried again. An administrative hearing was scheduled for Thursday to discuss a possible retrial date.
Wednesday was the third day of deliberations for the jury of seven women and five men. They deliberated for a total of about 15 hours. On Tuesday, they indicated they were deadlocked, but the judge told them to keep working.
The jurors made several requests since they began deliberating Monday. The judge has granted some and denied others, saying they were not part of the evidence. On Wednesday, they asked for a copy of a transcript from a witness, but the judge refused.
Before Williams dismissed the jurors, he told them, “You have clearly been diligent.”
During deliberations Wednesday, a handful of protesters gathered outside the courthouse, chanting “send those killer cops to jail.” Upon learning of the mistrial, people chanted “No justice, no peace” and the demonstration spilled from the sidewalk and onto the street. Police officers lined the streets outside the courthouse.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake repeated calls for Baltimore residents to respect the outcome of the trial.
“In the coming days, if some choose to demonstrate peacefully to express their opinion, that is their constitutional right. I urge everyone to remember that collectively, our reaction needs to be one of respect for our neighborhoods, and for the residents and businesses of our city,” she said in a statement.
Gray, who was arrested while fleeing from police, died April 19, a week after his neck was broken while the seven-block trip turned into a 45-minute journey around West Baltimore. The autopsy concluded that Gray probably suffered the injury from being slammed against the compartment’s metal wall during cornering or braking.
Gray was black. Porter is also black, as are two of the other five officers charged.