Jurors deliberating in the first trial related to the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray said Tuesday afternoon that they were deadlocked.
The judge sent the jury back to continue deliberating in the case of William Porter, the first of six police officers to be tried in Gray’s death from a neck injury sustained while in police custody.
The jury began deliberating Monday, 12 days after testimony began.
If the trial ends with a hung jury, prosecutors would have the opportunity to try the case again.
“This would be a game changer,” CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin said.
A hung jury may result in a decision to change the venue of the trial, she said, with possibly affecting the cases of the other five officers who have yet to be tried.
Earlier Tuesday, defense attorneys for Porter moved for a mistrial, citing a letter about the case that Baltimore City Public Schools sent to parents a day earlier.
Authorities say Gray, a 25-year-old black man, broke his neck on April 12 while being transported in a police van, shackled but not wearing a seat belt. His death a week later sparked demonstrations and made him a symbol of the black community’s distrust of police.
Prosecutors say Porter, one of three black officers charged in the case, was summoned by the van’s driver to check on Gray during stops on the way to a police station. They say he should have called a medic for Gray sooner than one was eventually called, and also should have ensured that Gray was wearing a seat belt.
Porter is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
For convictions on some or all of the first three charges, he would face no more than 10 years in prison combined. There is no statutory maximum sentence for the fourth charge, misconduct.
“Whatever the jury decides, we must all respect the process,” the mayor said last week. “If some choose to demonstrate to express their opinion, that is their right, and we respect that right, and we will fight to protect it. But all of us today agree that the unrest from last spring is not acceptable.”
Davis sent a letter to the police force on Monday, saying, “Regardless of the outcome of this trial or any future trial, we refuse to surrender to the low expectations of those who wish to see us fail. … We serve because we know so many good and decent Baltimoreans need us to stand in between them and crime, disorder, and chaos.”
All six officers are being tried separately and consecutively. Next up is the van driver, Caesar Goodson, whose trial is set to begin next month. Goodson, a black officer who is the lead defendant in the indictment, is charged with the most serious offense — second-degree murder with a depraved heart.
Authorities say Porter was present at five of the six stops. Among the main issues in the trial: Porter says Gray asked to be taken to a hospital during the fourth stop, but the prosecution and the defense disagree about whether Gray was injured at that point, and about the appropriateness of Porter’s decision to not call a medic then.
Dr. Carol Allan, the assistant state medical examiner, testified last week that Gray probably received his neck injury before the fourth stop, most likely at some point when the van stopped suddenly.
But two physicians testifying for the defense said Gray’s death likely happened after the fourth stop. The reason, they said, is that Gray would have been unable to speak at that stop had the injury happened earlier.
Porter conceded that Gray asked for medical help during stop four, but said he did not call a medic because Gray didn’t appear to be injured and didn’t articulate what was wrong. Porter said he helped Gray sit up on a van bench, with Gray “supporting his own head.”