BALTIMORE - Instead of a dramatic conclusion to the first of six trials of police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, the mistrial left Baltimore in suspense and confusion, with no immediate understanding of what happens next.
The city had braced for a possible repeat of the protests, destruction and dismay that engulfed the city in April after Gray's neck was broken in the back of a police van. But several small marches ended peacefully overnight as the community tried to process the news.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams acknowledged the hung jury Wednesday after the panel deadlocked over whether Officer William Porter had committed any crimes by failing to take measures that might have saved the life of the young black man, who was shackled and placed face down in the wagon after running from police.
Back at square one, prosecutors and defense attorneys met in Williams' chambers Thursday morning to discuss dates for a possible retrial. A uniformed deputy stood guard, and when the lawyers left about 30 minutes later, they declined to comment, citing the judge's gag order.
Maryland judiciary spokeswoman Terri Charles said lawyers will confer again with the judge in the coming days, and that to her knowledge, prosecutors have not decided whether to retry Porter.
The situation delays closure for an anxious city, and is unfortunate for both sides, said Steve Levin, a Baltimore defense attorney and former federal prosecutor.
"The state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Freddie Gray died. Beyond that, they weren't able to prove anything," Levin said. "They proved a tragedy, but I don't think they proved a crime."
Jurors deliberated for three days over whether Porter committed manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office. In the end, they said they were at an impasse on every charge, and that a unanimous verdict was impossible.
For a week, Democratic Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake had urged citizens to remain calm and peaceful no matter the outcome, while Police Commissioner Kevin Davis canceled leave for the department's officers in anticipation of the jury's decision. Now many are wondering what comes next.
"I'm not expecting our community to repeat April," said Erika Alston, a community leader who runs an afterschool program in West Baltimore. "But it is a bit of a kick in the chest."