Jury selection began Monday for the trial of William Porter, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a spinal cord injury while in police custody in April. All of the potential jurors called to the courthouse Monday morning reportedly indicated they were familiar with the Gray case, which sparked outrage across the country and prompted demonstrations and riots in Baltimore against police brutality.
About 80 prospective jurors remained in the courtroom as Judge Barry Williams began interviewing them; all also indicated that they are aware of the $6.4 million settlement the city paid to Gray’s family and the weeklong curfew that was imposed in the city during the riots, reported the Baltimore Sun.
Gray, 25, was arrested April 12 and suffered a severe injury to his spinal cord after being driven in the back of a police transport van for 45 minutes. He was found unresponsive upon arrival at Baltimore’s Western District police station, and he died in a hospital a week later.
Porter is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment in Gray’s death, and could face a sentence of at least 10 years in prison if convicted. He and the other five officers accused have pleaded not guilty, and all will be tried separately. Jury selection for Porter’s trial is expected to take several days, and will ultimately result in 12 jurors with up to four alternates.
Williams, the presiding judge, has ruled several times against defense motions to move the officers’ trials out of the city, but has left open the possibility that trial venues could change if an impartial panel can’t be found in Baltimore.
The next of the six trials is scheduled Jan. 6 for Caesar Goodson, who drove the van that transported Gray. Goodson faces the most serious charges of all the officers and is accused of second-degree depraved-heart murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of vehicular manslaughter and misconduct in office.