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Freddie Gray trial: jury officially deadlocked, judge declares mistrial

The jury presiding over the first trial related to the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray returned from deliberations — with no agreement on a decision on Wednesday. Judge Barry Williams declared the trial for suspended Baltimore police officer William Porter a mistrial. So there will likely be yet another trial, which would force another jury to deliberate over the case.

This is only the first of at least six trials in which police officers face criminal charges over Gray's death, which many claimed was caused by police negligence and brutality. But how the community will react to the mistrial, given the high tensions in the city after protests and riots earlier this year over Gray's death, remains to be seen.

Porter was the first of six Baltimore police officers on trial. He faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment, all of which could carry a prison sentence of at least 25 years. As with the other five officers, Porter is currently suspended without pay.

Gray suffered a fatal spinal cord injury April 12 as he thrashed around in the back of a police van without a seat belt, restrained by handcuffs, and despite repeated pleas for medical aid. Prosecutors accused Porter, who responded to a call by the police van's driver, of negligently contributing to Gray's death by failing to buckle Gray's seat belt — as suggested by Baltimore Police's guidelines — and ignoring Gray's pleas for help. But Porter's defense team argued that he advised the driver, Caesar Goodson Jr., and another supervisor, Alicia White, to take Gray to the hospital — although he thought Gray might be faking the injuries. Both Goodson and White are among the six charged with Gray's death.

According to the Washington Post, the judge told jurors Monday that they could find Porter guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the most serious of the charges, only if he acted in a "grossly negligent manner" that was severely out of line with what one would expect from "a reasonable police officer." The other charges carry similar standards, requiring the jury to find that Porter was grossly negligent, engaged in behavior not expected of a reasonable police officer, and acted "with an evil motive and in bad faith" when he tended to Gray.

For more, read Vox's full explainer on the trials.

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