Jury picking resumes in Baltimore's Freddie Gray killing trial

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 01, 2015 6:01 AM

By Ian Simpson

BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Jury selection resumes on Tuesday in the trial of the first of six police officers charged in the death of a black man from an injury in police custody that triggered rioting and fueled a U.S. debate on police brutality.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams on Monday told the roughly 75 potential jurors that opening statements in the trial of Officer William Porter would take place as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday.

The death of Freddie Gray, 25, in April followed police killings of black men in other cities, including New York and Ferguson, Missouri. The killings gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement, which has staged more than year of mostly peaceful protests across the United States.

Porter, 26, faces charges including manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office. Gray died from a spinal injury suffered in the back of a police van after he was taken into custody for fleeing an officer and possessing a knife.

Porter, who is black, is accused of ignoring Gray's requests for medical aid and not putting a seatbelt on the shackled and handcuffed detainee. He could face more than 25 years in prison if convicted of all charges.

Baltimore officials imposed a curfew and called in National Guard troops to quell rioting and arson that followed Gray's death.

Under the judge's questioning, all the jurors said they were aware of the Gray case, the unrest that followed and the $6.4 million Baltimore paid to Gray's family in a civil settlement.

About half the jury pool is black. The jury will have 12 members and a number of alternates, who will remain anonymous.

The other five officers are charged with offenses ranging from second-degree murder to misconduct.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Dan Grebler)