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jesus, justice, and everyone else wept


[contextly_sidebar id="1nEm8vZhvvgAWJwiwer9xhbq7iXHrYj5"]Goddammit, Baltimore. We were so proud of you, seriously, for being nearly the only people to try some police officers for their bad habit of killing people. Except that you have a really complicated trial situation where you needed to line some dominos up and convict one guy first so you could then convict all the others in the completely senseless and avoidable death of Freddie Gray. But then you gotta go and mess it all up by having a mistrial for the first cop tried, and now we have to go read some really boring stories in places like WaPo and the New York Times to figure out what the hell that all means.

Wednesday, the jury deadlocked on a verdict for William Porter, the first cop tried. He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. Porter was the cop responsible for buckling people into the cop van as it traveled the city, but Porter basically testified that nah, mang, they did not buckle people in ever really even though it was a rule. Instead, he placed Freddie Gray face-first on the floor with his ankles shackled and his hands cuffed behind his back and then drove him around Baltimore for 45 minutes, letting Gray careen around the back of the van until he suffered an injury that would prove fatal. Weird, but we are pretty sure that is not the rule you are supposed to follow. Haha who are we kidding? Police don't need to follow rules.

So anyway, where were we? Oh yeah, mistrial. So Porter testified on his own behalf and said that while he didn't buckle Gray in, that was no big deal because after the driver slammed Gray around the back of a solid metal structure repeatedly, Porter fulfilled some tiny bit of his Protect and Serve duty by telling the driver that Gray was in medical distress. And that, or god knows what other combination of testimony, was enough to convince at least one person on the jury that Porter should walk, even on the lowest count of the indictment -- a misconduct charge. Chew on that for a second. A group of Americans sat through someone saying cops shackled a man, left him on the floor, let him bang around in a metal death box, and then maybe -- just maybe -- told someone else that they should get Gray help, and went "ok cool sounds like a great guy let's go home now."

Here's the real problem: Convicting Porter on these charges was pretty necessary in order to make Porter a witness against the other five cops, including the van driver.

The van’s driver, Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., is scheduled to go on trial Jan. 6, when he will face the case’s most serious charge: depraved-heart second-degree murder.

“Officer Porter shifted blame to the van driver, Officer Goodson, in his testimony,” said Warren Alperstein, a defense lawyer and former Baltimore prosecutor. “The state had hoped to use Officer Porter’s testimony against Goodson at his trial. With a case possibly pending against Porter, he could invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify.”

Both sides were meeting with the judge today to hear if there would be a retrial, but right now that thin blue line is looking awful thick, y'all.

[NYT / AP / WaPo]

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