The trial of William G. Porter, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, began Wednesday after a 12-person jury of city residents was seated.
What happened today?
- A jury was selected
- Opening statements from the prosecution and defense
- The state called its first witness
Who is the jury?
The 12-person jury is made up of:
- 5 black women
- 3 black men
- 3 white women
- 1 white man
- 3 white men
- 1 black man
Prosecution's opening statements
- Prosecutors told jurors at the opening for the first trial in the death of Freddie Gray that Baltimore police Officer William G. Porter "criminally neglected his duty" to help Gray by failing to seatbelt him or call for help when it was clear Gray was seriously hurt.
- Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow said Porter had been trained to seatbelt arrestees inside of the back of police transport vans, but loaded Gray inside without using any of five available seat belts.
- Prosecutors detailed the route of the van to support their opening statements, as well as Freddie Gray's injuries.
- Schatzow told the jurors that Porter ignored several chances to help Gray, being involved at five of six stops the transport van made on its way to Central Booking.
- Schatzow emphasized that Gray was not seriously injured at that time, saying video shows him lifting his head as he is on the ground handcuffed, and bearing weight as he climbed into the van.
Defense opening statements
- Defense attorney Gary Proctor said his client was suspicious of Gray showing "jailitis," or feigning injury to avoid going to jail. Porter saw no obvious reasons to request a medic for Gray, Proctor said. Porter checked on Freddie Gray because he was concerned but saw no outward signs of injury that would have required calling a medic.
- Porter knew Gray from previous interactions, including an incident a few weeks before Gray's arrest in which he had been taken into custody and attempted to kick the windows out of a squad car.
- Proctor painted the Baltimore Police Department as a poorly trained, supervised and staffed agency where rules were advisory but routinely not followed.
- Proctor said Porter was a good cop with no record of misconduct, who was born and raised in West Baltimore, wanted to help his community and showed discretion on the streets.
Who was the first witness called?
Officer Alice Carson Johnson, also a city cop, trained Porter at the academy in 2013 on protocols for officers responding to medical situations as part of the state-approved Law Enforcement Emergency Medical Care Course curriculum.
The reason for putting Carson Johnson on the stand seemed to be for the state to establish that Porter had received specific training on responding to medical situations. The defense's response, through cross-examination, focused on officers using their discretion to assess the medical needs of a person.
How did we get to this point?
The jury panel's selection and each side's opening statements in the trial come after two days of jury selection Monday and Tuesday, during which Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams, prosecutors and defense attorneys questioned members of a 150-person pool in an attempt to weed out those deemed biased.
The start of the trial in Baltimore also follows months of arguments from defense attorneys that a fair jury cannot possibly be seated in the city, given the high profile of the case and its impact on local residents.
What did we know about the jury?
Based on open-court questioning of the jury pools Monday and Tuesday, everyone seated on the panel jury has prior knowledge of the case and the citywide curfew that went into effect during the April unrest.
Most, if not all, are aware of the $6.4 million civil settlement that the city has agreed to pay Gray's family.