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The trials of six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray will be held in Baltimore, a judge ruled on Thursday.
Circuit Judge Barry Williams’ ruling dealt a blow to lawyers for the officers who had argued that high profile protests and publicity following Gray’s death — coupled with the city officials’ recent $6.4 million wrongful death settlement with Gray’s family — would make it difficult to find an unbiased jury pool and warranted moving the trial outside of the city.
Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow countered that such a request was “insulting to the citizens of Baltimore.”
“The Boston bombing was tried in Boston…The sniper trial was held in Montgomery County even though the city was under siege for 22 days…why can’t we can’t get a fair jury out of a pool of 300,000,” he said.
The judge agreed saying moving the trial “would open the flood gates” for others to follow suit.
Efforts should be made to “impanel a jury of citizens,” he added saying the residents of “Baltimore can think for themselves. They are not monolithic.”
As the proceedings got underway, a gathering of roughly 30 protestors chanted outside of the courthouse. There was one arrest.
Gray sustained neck injuries following an April 12 foot chase with police which ended with his being charged with possession of a switchblade and placed into a police van. He sustained neck injuries while riding in the van, and died a week later.
Each of the six officers, Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, William Porter and Goodson, and Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, face reckless endangerment charges in regards to Gray's death. Rice, Porter, and White are additionally charged with manslaughter, and Goodson also faces second-degree murder.
The six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray will be tried separately.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake said she is confident judge Williams made the right decision in keeping the trial for the six officers in Baltimore and she hopes the city can now begin to heal.
Interim police chief Kevin Davis said he has opened a dialogue with protest leaders and they have met privately and he believes they understand each other's roles. He has even given them his cell phone number so they can communicate and he believes this is a step in the right direction.
After an afternoon hearing before judge Williams to discuss discovery in the case, attorney Ivan Bates told reporters, "We are obviously very disappointed in the judges ruling (to keep the trial in Baltimore) and the information publicized by the state omits crucial facts and paints an inaccurate picture of what happened on that April day. We ask you to listen to the entire story and figure out what happened in that van."