Judge Barry Williams ruled the William Porter case, the first case for the six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, a mistrial after jurors said they could not make a unanimous decision on any of the four charges brought against Porter.
After declaring the group of 12 men and women a hung jury, Williams thanked the jurors for their service and dismissed them. Following a conference with attorneys for both the defense and state, Williams informed both sides they were to appear at administrative court tomorrow to schedule a new trial date. Porter declined to appear.
Porter's charges include involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office in connection with the death of Gray, who suffered a partially severed spine while in police custody. The jury could not decide on any of the four after nearly 16 hours of deliberation.
Not long after the announcement of the hung jury, a protest, which included activist leaders Kwame Rose and pastor Westley West, was declared illegal for blocking the sidewalk in front of the courthouse. The group dispersed and sheriff's deputies moved through the group to quickly grab Rose, who is currently detained—it is unclear if he is arrested or just being held in custody.
As deputies carried him up the stairs, activists began yelling "He didn't do anything!" then started chanting "Free Kwame Rose! Free Kwame Rose!"
Protesters explained they were pushed off the sidewalk by deputies and also told they could not be in the street, which led the group, in the words of activist Megan Kenny, "to float." A wall of deputies surrounded the north side of the courthouse on East Lexington Street and it seemed, for the most part, calm.
A little while later, a small group of teenage protesters across the street from the courthouse began chanting and yelling. They also posed and mugged for the camera in a way that should be familiar to anyone who witnessed similar behavior during the first week of protests in April.
Following the chaos, a march began, led by pastor West, who took the group to City Hall and around the courthouse and back again. Other groups have added to the protest, including members of City Bloc and Bmore Bloc, who announced an additional protest at 5:30 p.m. Also present were the 300 Men March and activist/organizer Stokey Cannady.
In a press conference at Baltimore Police headquarters following the ruling, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake echoed sentiments she made in an earlier statement released to the media, urging residents and protesters to respect the process.
"All of us, if we believe in justice, must have respect for the justice system," she told reporters.
She said the city was ready to protect its residents, neighborhoods, businesses, and first responders in the event of rioting like what occurred last April. But she then urged calm, saying "We will not and cannot be defined by the unrest of last spring."
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis then stepped to the podium, telling the large group of media assembled that "we respect the right to protest" and likening his officers to peacekeepers.
But, he said, "You lose your ability to call yourself a protester when you choose to harm people and damage property."