*Days after a mistrial was declared in the trial of William Porter, a date for the Baltimore officer’s retrial has been set.
The Associated Press reports that Porter, one of six officers charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray, will be retried on June 13. The retrial, which was scheduled by a Baltimore judge on Monday, throws a wrench into the plans of prosecutors, who stated their initial plan to try Porter first and later call him as a witness to testify against at least two other officers facing criminal charges for Gray’s death.
Porter’s retrial will take place after the remaining officers’ trials. With him having a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself on the stand, Porter could exercise that right if the state tries to call him as a witness before his retrial.
Charges Porter faces include manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. The news of a retrial is the latest development in the aftermath of Gray’s death, which occurred April 19, a week after he suffered a broken neck in the back of a police transport wagon.
According to prosecutors, Porter is partially responsible for Gray’s death, in light of him not buckling Gray into a seat belt nor immediately calling for an ambulance after Gray said he needed medical attention.
After deliberating the charges against Porter for roughly 16 hours, jurors informed judge Barry Williams that they were impossibly deadlocked on every charge. From there, Williams declared a mistrial last Wednesday. In all, Porter’s trial lasted more than two weeks.
During the trial, Porter took the stand for more than four hours, telling jurors that he didn’t think Gray was injured when he lifted Gray off the floor of the van. At the time, Gray was handcuffed with his legs shackled while lying on the floor. In addition, Porter mentioned that he told the wagon driver, Caesar Goodson and a supervisor to take Gray to a nearby hospital. In Porter’s eyes, it was Goodson’s responsibility to make sure Gray was buckled in.
Goodson’s trial is slated to begin Jan. 6, the AP notes, adding that he faces the most serious charge in the case: second-degree “depraved-heart” murder.
Weighing in on the scheduling of Porter’s retrial after trials of the other officers, Miami-based trial attorney David Weinstein acknowledged that the hung jury was something of a complication for the state and its strategy for handling the case.
“They’re punting. I think politics is playing a role in all of this,” the former prosecutor told the AP as he acknowledged that the new development isn’t surprising. “If instead of having to now say, ‘We don’t believe our case against Porter is strong enough, or we need to use Porter to get a conviction against other people,’ they’re moving him down the line, to the second-best case. They likely think, ‘Hopefully we’ll get a better result, and that will send a message to Mr. Porter that the deadlock was just those 12 people.’ Part of these prosecutions is a chess game.”