Freddie Gray case: Testimony resumes Friday in trial of Officer Porter

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

BALTIMORE — A Virginia police chief who is a 35-year veteran of law enforcement testified Thursday as an expert witness in the trial of Baltimore Officer William Porter, saying his actions were ‘‘objectively reasonable’’ on the day Freddie Gray was injured..

BALTIMORE — Baltimore police officers rarely, if ever, put seat belts on prisoners they transport in the department’s wagons, according to witnesses who testified on behalf of William Porter, one of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

BALTIMORE — A Virginia police chief who is a 35-year veteran of law enforcement testified Thursday as an expert witness in the trial of Baltimore Officer William Porter, saying his actions were ‘‘objectively reasonable’’ on the day Freddie Gray was injured. Porter is facing manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges stemming from Gray’s death on April 19, a week after his neck was broken in the back of a transport wagon.

Prosecutors say Porter was criminally negligent for ignoring departmental policy requiring officers to seat belt prisoners, and for failing to call a medic immediately after Gray indicated he needed aid. Gray suffered a “catastrophic spinal cord injury” that paralyzed him “within milliseconds.” “I don’t think this was a survivable injury,” said Dr.

Porter testified he saw no signs that Gray was wounded or injured, and that it was the wagon driver’s responsibility to make sure Gray was fastened in a seat belt before driving away. Officer Michael Wood told jurors that of the roughly 100 arrests he’s been a party to, he’s never belted in a prisoner or observed another officer buckling in a detainee. Porter used his discretion and good judgment in deciding not to buckle Gray in, and he properly informed van driver Caesar Goodson, and later his supervisor, that Gray had asked to go to the hospital, Longo said. Charlottesville Police Chief Timothy Longo said Porter, whose service weapon was clipped to his belt at the time of Gray’s arrest, likely didn’t want to risk climbing into a confined space with a detainee whom Porter believed had been kicking, shaking the wagon and resisting arrest. Matthew Ammerman testified that Gray would have been instantly paralyzed from the neck down, whereas the state’s autopsy report concluded the injury and its effects were progressive.

In Ammerman’s opinion, the injury occurred after Porter’s last exchange with Gray, at the van’s fifth stop, and before the prisoner was found unconscious at the sixth and final stop. Chief Longo, a consultant in police ethics and conduct, testified that Officer Porter’s actions were “objectively reasonable” even though, as prosecutors have repeatedly pointed out, the Baltimore Police Department’s guidelines require officers to call for a medic when a detainee asks for one, and to use seatbelts. Their testimony Thursday came as the defense was moving toward wrapping up its case; legal experts say closing arguments could come on Friday or early next week. Gray’s neck was injured between the van’s second and fourth stops, and that his condition deteriorated over time, suggesting that Officer Porter could and should have helped him. Gray’s spinal cord was crushed sometime after the fifth stop — when Officer Porter had already left him — and that the injury was so severe it would have “immediately rendered him paralyzed, stopped him from breathing and unfortunately ended his life.” Officer Mark Gladhill, who worked alongside Officer Porter and who responded to calls for backup when Mr.

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