*A jury of mostly African Americans will decide if former Baltimore police officer William Porter is guilty in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a black man who died in April after a “rough ride” in a police van.
Court officials announced Wednesday that eight black and four white jurors have been seated in the case – a panel that reflects the racial makeup of Baltimore. The 12 jurors include eight women (five black and three white), and four men (three black and one white). The alternates are three black men and one white man.
Porter, the first of six Baltimore cops to stand trial in Gray’s death, has been charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
When jury selection for Porter began on Monday, over half of the 75 potential jurors informed Judge Barry Williams, who is presiding over Porter’s trial, that they or someone in their family had been a victim of, investigated for, charged with or incarcerated for a crime.
Everyone in the jury pool also said they knew about Gray’s death, the protests that followed and the citywide curfew. Only one person said they were unaware of the $6.4 million settlement paid to Gray’s family.
Citing intense news media scrutiny, the judge decided that jurors’ identities would be shielded. One concern, experts say, is that jurors will worry about the impact of their decision on the city.
Opening arguments began shortly after the jury was chosen.
Prosecutors said Porter failed to render aid to Gray, who repeatedly asked for medical attention after he was arrested, handcuffed and shackled at his feet, and driven around in a police transport van for about 45 minutes in April.
“The defendant alone is on trial for what he did, or more importantly, what he did not do,” prosecutor Michael Schatzow said during his opening statement.