Baltimore Police React to Mistrial in Freddie Gray's Case
- By Sydny Shepard
- Dec 17, 2015
In mid-December, the trial of Baltimore Police Officer William G. Porter concluded in a hung jury. The 12-person jury could not agree in its deliberations, and the judge declared a mistrial. Porter had been charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in the office following the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in police custody back in April of 2015.
The Baltimore police department responded shortly after the mistrial was announced, stating that it has respect for the criminal justice process. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joined Police Commissioner Kevin Davis with a united message. They asked residents to respect the outcome of the judicial process and while they respect the right for a group of people to join in protest, they hoped it would be peaceful.
Baltimore PD prepared for the verdict of this case at least a week in advance, cancelling all leave for the week the verdict was to be read, ensuring there would be plenty of officers on duty if there was any fallout. According to a report, all sworn personnel would be assigned to 12-hour shifts throughout the week.
The preparation made sense, as large riots broke out around the city in April following Gray’s death. Fires, looting and other violence at that time prompted the Baltimore mayor to impose a curfew for several days and the Maryland governor to declare a state of emergency. They also deployed the National Guard.
Because of the past events, Commissioner Davis urged protestors to stay calm and protest in a peaceful way. He stressed that the police department would protect the right of Americans who want to peacefully demonstrate, while being clear that demonstrators who became violent toward people or property “lose the ability” to call themselves protestors.
“We respect the right of Americans to protest,” Commissioner Davis said. “Protestors who are lawfully assembled have a friend in the Baltimore Police Department. We are here to serve as peacekeepers. We respect the right to protest, we respect the protestors ... We will do everything we can to afford them the ability to protest in this city.”
Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.