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Judge declares mistrial in first Freddie Gray officer case

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis hold a news conference Wednesday.

On the third day of deliberations, Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams formally declared a mistrial Wednesday after the jury in the trial of Officer William G. Porter said it was hung on all four counts.

The jury of seven women and five men told Williams that it could not reach a decision in the first of six trials over the death of Freddie Gray, who sustained a fatal spinal injury while in police custody in April. The jury deliberated for nearly 15 hours today, after they previously told the judge Tuesday they were deadlocked.

Porter, 26, had been charged with manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct for his involvement in Gray’s death. He faces up to 25 years in prison. A new retrial date is expected to be set Thursday and Porter will not be present, The Baltimore Sun reported.

Last week, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told the city to “respect the process,” no matter what the jury decided. She repeated that statement today after a mistrial was declared in a press conference.

“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.

Gray’s stepfather, Richard Shipley, reads a statement.

Bracing for further unrest following a verdict in this case, Rawlings-Blake said she activated the city’s emergency operations center Monday “out of an abundance of caution.”

Police commissioner Kevin Davis urged protesters to remain peaceful. “Those protesters who are lawfully assembled will find that our police department respects them,” he said.

Porter is the first of six police officers to go to court after Maryland’s state attorney Marilyn Mosby filed criminal charges against the officers in May. She accused them of failing, multiple times, to get the handcuffed Gray medical attention after he suffered a spinal injury in the back of a police van during the 45-minute ride to the station. Gray died a week later from the injury. All six officers have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors said Porter should have buckled Gray into his seat and radioed in a request for a medic, similar assessments Mosby made when she announced, after reviewing an independent autopsy report and eyewitness accounts, that the state ruled Gray’s death a homicide. Prosecutors said these decisions turned the van into a “casket on wheels.”

Porter’s defense attorneys said it was the van’s driver — and not Porter — who was supposed to buckle Gray into a seat belt.

When Porter took the stand in his own defense last week, he said Gray “was unable to give me any reason for any kind of medical emergency” before he arrived at the station critically injured.

Gray’s death sparked weeks of unrest in the city, despite repeated calls for calm by his mother and community leaders.

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