Officer William Porter subject to retrial on all four charges
The trial of Baltimore Police Officer William Porter ended in a mistrial today, with Judge Williams accepting that the jury was hung on all four criminal charges brought against Porter in the aftermath of the in custody death of Freddie Gray.
Update: For those curious about what the jury vote breakdown might have been, don’t get your hopes up. The court definitely won’t release an official breakdown (Judge Williams said so explicitly), and the jurors themselves might be inclined to leak the info but they’re technically under a gag order issued by Williams. So, even if one of the jurors does leak they won’t want to be publicly associated with the leak for fear of being held in contempt, so the leaked information can’t be validated.
Officer Porter is, of course, subject to re-trial on all four charges: involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office. (Update: It’s being reported that the parties will meet before an administrative judge tomorrow to set a date for the retrial of Officer Porter.)
The mistrial must be seen as a stinging rebuke to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who rushed to charge Porter and six other officers before the police investigation into the matter had even completed. Many legal experts, including myself, have been of the opinion that not only were the prospects for a conviction slight, but that the charges should never have been brought in the first place.
Page Crowder, a Baltimore State’s Attorney for 21 years before retiring, has been perhaps the best-informed critic of Mosby’s impetuous conduct in this case, noting at her blog during the trial:
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby is getting her rear end kicked
Not by a brilliant defense strategy, but by the facts. Facts that she could have discovered had she conducted herself professionally and ethically.
People with expertise told her – immediately after her dramatic announcement of charges – that she acted too fast, that she could not possibly have known all the facts with her two-week “parallel” investigation, her failure to study the police and medical examiner’s reports, and her failure to use the grand jury or her own experienced homicide division.
Her own probable cause statement did not support her sensational indictments. The autopsy report didn’t either, despite it’s legal conclusion (that was clearly influenced by Mosby.) And now the facts reveal that not only are the charges not provable beyond a reasonable doubt, but the officers are actually innocent.
Attorney former police officer Mike McDaniel, posting at the always excellent Stately McDaniel Manor blog, wrote yesterday:
Nothing I’ve seen relating to the closing arguments in any way changed my opinion of the lack of evidence and the lack of credibility of prosecution witnesses. There was no probable cause to arrest Officer Porter, and no evidence to try him.
The trial of Officer Porter itself was notable for a lack of State’s evidence, other than speculation by their medical examiner, and a wealth of defense testimony that not only generated enormous reasonable doubt but also suggested that if anything Porter had gone above and beyond his duty in dealing with Gray.
In the aftermath of the mistrial we now wait to see how the residents of Baltimore will respond. In the aftermath of Gray’s death protests quickly turned violent, leading to days of rioting, looting, and arson. Local schools had cancelled field trips in anticipation of a verdict, and the Baltimore police placed on heightened alert with leaves cancelled for officers.
The trials for the remaining five charged officers remain scheduled to proceed, with the trial of Officer Goodson, the driver of the van in which Gray suffered his life-ending spinal injury, the next to be placed before a jury.
Keep your eyes here for more coverage of the “Freddie Gray” trials.
Attorney Andrew Branca and his firm Law of Self Defense have been providing internationally-recognized expertise in American self-defense law for almost 20 years in the form of blogging, books, live seminars & online training (both accredited for CLE), public speaking engagements, and individualized legal consultation.
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