The first of six consecutive trials of officers accused in the killing of Freddie Gray began this morning in Baltimore, a city that remains on edge seven months after protests and riots gripped it in the wake of the 25-year-old’s death in police custody.
As about 50 protesters shouted outside — their cries audible from the courtroom — Judge Barry G. Williams started screening prospective jurors to determine who would be suitable to sit in judgment of Officer William G. Porter, one of a half dozen officers charged with in connection Gray’s death.
Williams first asked the group of more than 70 whether they had heard about the Freddie Gray case, the curfew related to the unrest that followed and the $6.4 million civil settlement Baltimore reached with Gray’s family. Every single juror replied they had heard of each development. The judge then turned his attention to more nuanced matters, such as whether the prospective jurors knew witnesses in the case, or whether their personal views and experiences might preclude them from serving.