awaits new trial date in policeman's manslaughter trial
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[December 17, 2015]
BALTIMORE (Reuters) - Baltimore will
be awaiting a fresh court date on Thursday after a judge declared a
mistrial in the case of a police officer charged in the death of black
detainee Freddie Gray, which sparked riots in April.
A judge dismissed the jury on Wednesday in the involuntary
manslaughter trial of Officer William Porter, the first of six
officers to be tried in Gray's death. The decision came after jurors
were unable to reach a verdict on any of the charges.
Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams was set to meet
behind closed doors with defense lawyers and prosecutors to schedule
a new trial. It was not clear when meetings would take place or the
new date would be announced.
Gray's death triggered protests and rioting in the mainly black city
of 620,000 people, and intensified a U.S. debate on police treatment
Legal experts have said the outcome of the Baltimore trials could
influence U.S. prosecutors in bringing similar charges in cases of
alleged police brutality.
Williams' ruling prompted protests, with scores of demonstrators
marching in downtown Baltimore and gathering in Gray's West
Baltimore neighborhood. At least two demonstrators were arrested.
Gray's family and officials, including Baltimore Mayor Stephanie
Rawlings-Blake, called for calm.
Porter, 26, was charged in Gray's death from a broken neck suffered
while the 25-year-old man was transported in the back of a police
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Van driver Officer Caesar Goodson is the next officer due in court,
with his trial set for Jan. 6. Prosecutors had scheduled Porter's as
the first trial to allow him to be a witness against Goodson and a
Porter, who like Gray is black, was charged for having put Gray in
the back of the van without seat-belting him and with being too slow
to pass on his request for medical assistance.
The charges against the other officers range from second-degree
murder for Goodson to misconduct.
(Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Paul Tait)
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