The first of six officers who were indicted in the death of Freddie Gray is in the beginning stages of being tried in court. The jury selection for the trial of Officer William Porter began Monday.
Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore resident, suffered a fatal spine injury while in police custody April 12, and his death sparked a riot in the city’s streets. Porter was called for backup after the young man was arrested and placed in handcuffs and leg irons in a police van, NPR reported. He was present when Gray stated that he couldn’t breathe, and according to The Baltimore Sun, he informed investigators that he had told the van’s driver about Gray’s condition, but was unsure as to whether the detainee was only pretending to be ill.
Porter faces charges of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office. According to prosecutors, Porter’s trial will be held first because he is a material witness against at least two other officers being tried for Gray’s death. He is also expected to testify.
“Porter is going to be the key to everything,” said Baltimore defense attorney A. Dwight Pettit, who has no involvement in the case. “What he negotiates or doesn’t negotiate, whether he’s acquitted or whether he’s convicted, he is going to be the determiner of how the other five proceed.”
The trial is expected to end in mid-December and reveal details about how Gray obtained his injuries.