Baltimore Officer’s Closing Arguments Begin In Freddie Gray Trial

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Casey Harper Contributor
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The trial for the first of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray began closing arguments Monday in a case that could reignite the riots of April, and will likely be the biggest ruling since Ferguson officer Darren Wilson was cleared of all charges.

Gray died from a severe spinal injury after police arrested him in April and transported him in the back of a police van. The details are contested, but Gray appeared healthy when arrested and was severely injured sometime after being taken into custody. He died a week later from the injuries.

Baltimore Police Officer William Porter, 26, is charged with reckless endangerment, misconduct, assault and involuntary manslaughter. Although he did not arrest Gray, he is accused of not properly buckling him into the van, which may have allowed him to slide around in the back, potentially causing the injury.

“When Officer Porter failed to call for a medic, when that van door closed, that wagon became [Gray’s] casket on wheels,” Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe told the jury.

Porter, who is black, said Gray told him he wanted to go to the hospital, but the driver of the van — a different officer — went to the police station instead, USA Today reports. When they arrived at the station, Gray was was unresponsive.

The death of Freddie Gray has turned Baltimore upside down. Every step of the trial has seen intense media scrutiny and a persistent collection of protesters. The city is seeing a spike in violence since the riots in late April after Gray’s death which led to fires and looting all over the city. Baltimore has seen an incredible 325 homicides so far this year, nearly a 50 percent increase from last year.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced in September that she would not run for reelection. The city hired a new police commissioner in October. Davis has previously served as the interim commissioner after Rawlings-Blake fired Anthony Batts in July amid the rise in homicides.

“We need stability in the Police Department,” City Councilman Brandon Scott told The Baltimore Sun after the decision. “We cannot have a temporary captain of the ship with all the violence in the city and the trials [in the Freddie Gray case] coming up. … I have confidence that the comissioner will do a better job of working with everyone to get the crime rate down.”

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