Jury selection for the first officer to go to trial over the death of Freddie Gray has begun in Baltimore.
Freddie Gray’s death in police custody set off days of protests.
Officer William Porter is charged with manslaughter, accused of failing to give medical help to Gray despite complaints and warning signs.
Freddie Gray sustained a severe spinal cord injury while riding in a police van and died a week later.
The case became a lightning rod in the US movement against police brutality.
William Porter is one of six police officers charged over Freddie Gray’s death. All have pleaded not guilty. They will be tried separately and prosecutors hope to use William Porter as a witness in the other trials.
The case has already shaken Baltimore. After the riots, some police union police officials said the Gray case made officers “hesitant” to stop crime.
In a media campaign, police officials publically criticized the mayor and the city council, saying the force lacked their support.
City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts has been fired and the once-popular Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has agreed not to run for election in the ensuing fallout. The city recently surpassed 300 murders within a year for the first time since 1999.
“Everything is at stake. The future of the city is at stake,” Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said.
Finding an impartial jury is expected to be difficult given how Freddie Gray’s death affected the city. A Baltimore judge denied a defense request for a change of venue in September.
B-37 – the juror who wanted to pen a book- is a white woman who volunteers rescuing animals. She is married to an attorney and has two adult children. She said she and her husband used to have concealed weapons permits. During the last round of questioning, she said she had an issue with the type of weapons people are allowed to carry. She also thought weapons’ training was inadequate for people seeking permits. “It should become harder,” she said.
B-51 is retired, unmarried and doesn’t have kids. She has lived in Seminole County for nine years working in real estate and run a call center where she said she had experience resolving conflicts. When asked if George Zimmerman did something wrong by following Trayvon Martin instead of waiting for police, she said: “Yeah, I guess he did do something wrong.”
A six-woman jury acquitted George Zimmerman of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in a gated community in Sanford, Florida
B-29 recently moved to central Florida from Chicago. She enjoys watching the Real Housewives on television and works as a nurse on an Alzheimer’s section of a nursing home. She said she hadn’t paid much attention to the shooting. She said she has been arrested, but her case was dropped. It’s not clear why she was arrested or exactly what happened to her case, though she said she was treated fairly. She is married and has several children. A prosecutor described her as “black or Hispanic” during jury selection.
B-76 is a white woman who has lived in central Florida for 18 years. She manages rental properties with her husband of 30 years. She has two adult children, including one who is an attorney. She is involved with rescuing animals in her free time. During jury selection, she said she had been the victim of a nonviolent crime. “Everyone deserves a fair trial,” she said.
E-6 is a white woman who is married and has two children. She has worked in financial services and has lived in Seminole County for two years. She is active in her church and involved with her children’s school. During jury selection, she said she didn’t know the facts of the case well.
E-40 is a white woman who works as a safety officer and recently moved to Seminole County from Iowa. She describes herself as a football fan. During jury selection, she said she had been the victim of a nonviolent crime.