Trial in Freddie Gray's Death Is Underway in Baltimore
Prosecution claims police ignored Gray's pleas for help
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 2, 2015 5:20 PM CST
William Porter, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, arrives at a courthouse for jury selection on Monday in Baltimore.   (Rob Carr/Pool Photo via AP)

(Newser) – The first of six trials in the death of Freddie Gray—who suffered a broken neck while in police custody last April—got underway Wednesday in Baltimore, the Washington Post reports. Officer William Porter is charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment. Five other officers have also been charged in connection with the 25-year-old's death. According to the New York Times, prosecutors for the state claim Porter ignored Gray's pleas that he couldn't breathe and requests for a medic or to go to the hospital. They accuse Porter of "criminal negligence" and “gross indifference to whether Mr. Gray survived." The Post reports officers are trained to get help for any arrestee who says they can't breathe.

Meanwhile Porter's attorney claims Gray never said he couldn't breathe around Porter, the Times reports. According to the Post, the defense also points to Gray's history of resisting arrest and the habit of arrestees in general of faking injuries to get out of going to jail. His attorney told the jury they may want to find Porter guilty to "hold someone accountable," but the facts don't support it and it would be a "tragedy." Gray broke his neck while inside a police van, where he was not buckled in. How he broke his neck and the fact that he wasn't wearing a seat belt are both points of contention between the prosecution and defense. Gray went into a coma before reaching the jail and died a week later. The Times reports his death led to the worst riots in Baltimore since Martin Luther King Jr. was killed 47 years earlier.
 

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