Gray’s death in police custody on April 19, from a severe spinal cord injury which many believe was caused by a deliberately “rough ride,” lead to a massive uprising throughout the city, leaving the community squaring off with a heavily militarized police force as well as the National Guard.
During the jury selection process, the judge asked 75 potential jurors if any of them had not heard about the case, the curfew, or the massive settlement given to Gray’s family and not a single person responded.
The judge also asked potential jurors to stand in response to various questions that may excuse them from the case. When asked about family members in law enforcement, a dozen people rose. Another 38 indicated that they had been a victim or suspect of a crime, had been to jail, or had charges pending against them, Fox News reported.
Another 26 people admitted that they had very strong feelings about the case.
William Porter is the first to be tried for the 25-year-old’s death. He is accused of failing to obtain medical attention for Gray during the several stops made during the 45 minutes Gray spent in the back of the police van.
Porter, who is charged with manslaughter, assault, misconduct, and reckless endangerment, is being tried first mainly because the prosecution wants to use him as a witness in the trials of several of the other officers.
The outcome of the trial could lead to more unrest, and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has acknowledged.
"Everything is at stake. The future of the city is at stake," Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has stated.
This first trial is expected to conclude by December 17. The remaining trials will resume in January and are expected to continue until Spring.
Faith in the justice system remains low in the community, however.
For example, Harold Perry, a 72-year-old blind man told the Guardian that he still has not been able to shake what he heard.
“I still hear the young man crying, screaming at certain points,” said Perry
Perry says that he was awakened by Gray’s cries.
“I heard him screaming: ‘Get off my back, you’re hurting my neck, you’re hurting my neck. I got asthma, I got asthma,’” Perry recalled. “And he started screaming, ‘Help, please, somebody help me. You’re hurting my back.’ And then it kind of quieted down. I guess they handcuffed him and they brought him up to that point over there where the mural is and threw him down on the ground and two police cars pulled up right here in front of my house.”