The closing arguments for the first offer to be tried in connection with the Freddie Gray case started on the morning of December 14, 2015. The timing of the case could not be any worse in light of the holidays.
A jury will take these testimony and evidence as well as the closing arguments into deliberations knowing the full weight of the case at hand.
The jury has to decide if the officer was negligent in his handling of Mr. Gray on that fateful drive. Should the officer have placed Mr. Gray in a seat belt? Should the officer have heeded requests for medical attention sooner? Or was he justified in waiting as long as he did to get help?
The Washington Post writes that Judge Barry G. Williams told jurors that "they could only find Porter guilty of the most serious charge — involuntary manslaughter — if they determined that he “acted in a grossly negligent manner,” severely out of line with the behavior of “a reasonable police officer.”
This first verdict may be a predictor of what is to come as another five officers stand for trial.
Will a verdict cause the city to erupt once more? Or will calmer heads prevail and peaceful protest take root? Residents of Baltimore city and those tasked with keeping them safe have to be wracking their brains wondering what awaits them.
Let us all hope whichever way the jury decides that the city responds in a peaceful manner.