Baltimore city officials are preparing for unrest as the jury in the first Freddie Gray trial enters deliberations.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the 12-person jury, made up of seven African-Americans, convened yesterday to decide the fate of Officer William Porter after hearing two weeks of testimony. Porter has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment for failing to secure Gray into the police van and not seeking medical attention for the 25-year-old.
“How long does it take to click a seat belt and click a radio and ask for a medic?” prosecutor Janice Bledsoe said during her closing arguments as she demonstrated securing a seat belt. “Two seconds? Three seconds? Maybe four. Is two, three, four seconds worth a life? It’s all it would have taken…Freddie Gray went into the van healthy, and Freddie Gray came out dead.”
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is asking that the public remain peaceful.
“Whether you agree or whether you disagree with the jury’s ultimate verdict, our reaction has to be one of respect in Baltimore’s neighborhoods,” she said in a statement.
Baltimore police have taken steps to make sure that all officers are on-duty this week, and local schools sent out a notice to parents telling them that students will be punished if there is disobedience.
“We need to make it clear that students walkouts, vandalism, civil disorder and any form of violence are not acceptable under any circumstances and that students who participate in such behaviors will face consequences,” city schools CEO Gregory Thornton said in the memo.
The jury’s decision could come as early as this week. If convicted, Porter faces up to 25 years in prison.