Baltimore on Edge as First Trial in Freddie Gray Case Begins

Every prospective juror for officer William Porter's trial knows about the case
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2015 1:00 PM CST

(Newser) – Jury selection started Monday in the trial of William Porter, one of six Baltimore cops charged in the death of Freddie Gray, and potential jurors had one thing in common: They had all heard of the 25-year-old Gray, the $6.4 million settlement paid by the city to his family, and the curfew that followed his death, the Baltimore Sun reports. Judge Barry Williams followed up with those among 80 or so prospective jurors who noted they had possible conflicts with the case. Meanwhile, about 50 demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse, chanting slogans such as "All night all day! We will fight for Freddie Gray!" per the Washington Post. Lawyers for the accused cops have said they didn't think their clients could get impartial juries in Baltimore, but Williams wanted to try anyway, per USA Today.

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The Post reports the jury pool "appeared to be a diverse group of men and women of all ages, with a majority of them black." Porter, 26, was in the police van in which Gray was driven for 45 minutes after his April 12 arrest; prosecutors say Porter ignored Gray's requests for medical assistance, per USA Today. Porter, who is black, is charged with manslaughter, reckless endangerment, assault, and misconduct in office, per the Sun. Williams says the closely watched trial likely won't go past Dec. 17, but it's what happens after the verdict that has many people nervous: ABC News notes that a conviction will upend the already troubled Baltimore police department, while an acquittal could cause more unrest in the city. "If it doesn't go over well, what will Christmas be like?" a community activist tells ABC. "If we have more riots, who will feel safe? The world is watching Baltimore." (Read more Freddie Gray stories.)

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