Juror selection is underway as the first of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray prepares to stand trial.
The New York Times reports that 26-year-old Officer William Porter, who is Black, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and assault in the April death of Gray. Judge Barry Williams, who is also African-American, is expected to begin whittling down the juror pool today.
According to reports, Porter was not present at the time of Gray's arrest, but he was asked to check on Gray at one point during the trip to the police station. During that time, he reportedly did not buckle Gray into the van and failed to get him the medical attention that he required.
"Everybody is interested in Freddie Gray," Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson told the Times. "It's one of the clearest indictments by a prosecutor. I think people are looking at this as a bellwether case: Is it possible to convict the police?"
Gray died on April 20, one week after he was arrested for allegedly possessing a switchblade. He was placed in the back of a police van, but according to state's prosecutor Marilyn Mosby, authorities failed to properly secure him during the ride. He suffered from a severed spinal cord and died from his injuries a week later.
The five other officers charged in his death are expected to separately go on trial sometime next year. City officials are asking that the public remain calm during the upcoming months.