Freddie Gray trial: Key points from the state’s case

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Bernie Sanders Took A Walk Through Freddie Gray’s Neighborhood. Here’s What Residents Think About It..

BALTIMORE — Ground zero of the April 27 rioting in this city, at least symbolically, was the hard-knocks intersection of Pennsylvania and West North avenues.BALTIMORE — Bernie Sanders’ presidential prospects may be shrinking, but when he stepped off a campaign bus into the heart of this struggling city Tuesday, he was met by a spontaneous chorus of residents pleading for jobs and a pathway from poverty. “You don’t want us to sell drugs,” one person yelled as Sanders – surrounded by a throng of cameras and local pastors – trudged past boarded up homes and businesses in the neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested in April before dying in police custody.BALTIMORE — Prosecutors in the manslaughter trial of a Baltimore police officer rested their case Tuesday in the same way they began — with testimony that Officer William Porter failed in his duty to ensure the safety of Freddie Gray.

It’s where James Carter, a hood-savvy ex-crack peddler gone straight years ago, runs a cellphone store, and where Murshaun Young, bereft of prospects yet stubbornly hopeful, lingers on stoops, mulling how to escape his circumstances. Gray’s death set off a chain reaction of protests and, in some cases, violent recriminations that drew national attention to strained police-community relations.

Young’s dream: “This house right here,” he says, chin-gesturing to a shabby, three-story tenement on West North. “There was an auction the other day. Another woman yelled about the need for change, while others voiced a desire for better schools, more job opportunities and an end to police violence. The house was going for, like, $5,000 initially.” Young, 27, says he pestered some of his pals in the corner drug trade, begging them to chip in cash with him. “I’m like, ‘Hey, we can get together $5,000. He has struggled to connect with minority communities, which could stunt any momentum he gains if he manages to win early Democratic nominating contests in predominantly white Iowa and New Hampshire. But Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow said Porter showed a “callous indifference for life” when he failed to secure Gray with a seat belt in a police van and failed to summon medical aid when asked.

Carol Allan, conceded under cross-examination that she would not have ruled Gray’s death a homicide had the driver of a police transport van followed Porter’s instructions and taken Gray to a hospital. With the defense set to begin its case Wednesday morning, attention will now turn to Officer Porter, 26, who is expected to testify on his own behalf.

Front-runner Hillary Clinton appears poised to dominate the other early contests and holds landslide-level leads over Sanders in national polling, as well as in surveys of African American voters. The van driver, Officer Caesar Goodson, instead picked up a second prisoner and then drove to a West Baltimore police station, where Gray was found unresponsive and paralyzed from a broken neck. The pastors and surrogates who flanked Sanders during his appearance here repeatedly insisted that the 2016 contender still has time to make inroads in their community before primary polls open. “He’s a senator from Vermont that has an overwhelmingly white population. In such requests for a judgment of acquittal, which are common but rarely granted, judges must look at the evidence in the “light most favorable” to the state.

He had been in the back of the van for 45 minutes, handcuffed and shackled for most of the ride, and the defense sought to shift blame to Goodson. “There’s no testimony that what Officer Porter did was any sort of deviation from what a reasonable police officer would do,” defense attorney Gary Proctor said in arguing for dismissal of all charges. The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate discussed increasing the minimum wage, eliminating mass incarceration and funneling money back into America’s black communities with several community leaders, including the Rev. The death on April 19 of Gray, a 25-year-old black man arrested after he ran from police in his neighborhood, set off protests and a riot in the city, and became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement. Gray, asked for help. “He’s going to score points because he’s from Baltimore, he’s young, he’s personable,” Doug Colbert, a University of Maryland law professor who has been attending the trial, said of Officer Porter, who is also black. “But substantively, he’s going to be grilled on why he didn’t take more action.” Mr. I’m talking to drug dealers who do not understand the value of real estate.” A few boarded-up doors away from Young’s dream rowhouse, Carter, 48, manages a Metro PCS outlet, close to where a CVS pharmacy is being built, the previous CVS having burned to a husk April 27 in a nationally televised arson.

Gray’s death, from a spinal cord injury suffered while he was in police custody, opened a raw wound in Baltimore, a city with a long history of tense relations between blacks and the police. That blaze formed an indelible video image from the civic mayhem sparked by Freddie Gray’s fatal encounter with Baltimore police, and the city’s Penn-North neighborhood came to be viewed as the epicenter of the widespread violence and looting.

Sanders kicked off his visit with a walking tour that quickly clogged city streets as curious residents trailed the horde of journalists following Sanders. Jurors heard from 16 state’s witnesses over five days and watched Porter’s videotaped interview with Baltimore detectives as the prosecutors centered on what he did and didn’t do for Gray, who repeatedly asked for medical attention. You would think that you were in a third-world country where unemployment is over 50 percent,” Sanders said at a press conference following his walk-through. “A community that does not even have decent, quality grocery stores where moms can buy quality food for their kids. His defense attorneys have tried to show that he did care about Gray’s well-being but did not realize the extent of his injuries, and was not primarily responsibly for his care.

The first and last witnesses were police instructors who testified that Porter had a duty under Baltimore Police Department policies to call a medic after Gray requested one and asked the officer to help him off the floor. A community in which the dream of getting a higher education for many kids is as real as is going to the moon.” At his meeting with pastors, someone mentioned that there was no bank within 2 miles of Sandtown, and the conversation turned to high interest rates on payday loans and the prominence of check-cashing stores. “The point being, it is very expensive to be poor,” Sanders said, adding that it also probably costs more to eat in the area since there are no grocery stores. Construction workers were actively repairing damaged buildings, some of which were adorned with signs reading “We must stop killing each other.” Onlookers who recognized him quickly informed neighbors who he was until an impromptu crowd buzzed around the presidential hopeful. “We don’t want Trump,” one man yelled, referencing the Republican presidential frontrunner and attempting to lead nearby strangers in a chant. He also said he couldn’t find a single case where failing to seat belt resulted in the reckless disregard of human life, which is one of the charges Porter faces.

During the walk-through, some residents yelled out in support of Sanders, citing his disassociation from super PACs and emphasizing that Republican front-runner Donald Trump is the antithesis of who they want in the White House. He said they will also likely bring other police officers to testify that Porter’s actions “were reasonable as they understood the regulations and the rules,” and character witnesses to testify that Porter is a good person who would not intentionally harm Gray. Prosecutors contend Gray was gravely injured by the fourth of six stops the van made en route to the police station, when Porter opened the doors and lifted him from the floor onto a bench. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis have said repeatedly that they are preparing for the possibility of further unrest.

But several Baltimore residents who spoke to The Huffington Post remained skeptical of the reasons behind Sanders visit and the changes he could implement to better the streets they walk every day. “What he gon’ do? Legal experts say the state faces difficult hurdles, especially in proving manslaughter, which requires convincing the jury that Officer Porter intentionally endangered Mr. But there’s also a crushing gravity, the weight of economic helplessness, which breeds frustration, which fueled the rage that exploded in violence more than seven months ago, and could again. He’ll pull dope dealers off the streets and give them honest jobs, open the gates to salvation. “I’m thinking, two stores in Timonium, two in Towson, two in Owings Mills and 14 more down the Eastern Shore,” he says. The same thing still been going on — police brutality and harassment.” Since the unrest that followed Gray’s funeral on April 27, the nation has become more aware of what is happening on the ground in Baltimore.

Murtha’s aggressive style drew a warning Monday from the judge, who threatened to hold him in contempt if he didn’t stop “testifying,” by posing questions about information not in evidence, during his cross-examination of the assistant medical examiner. Lyman testified that it is the responsibility of all officers, not just the driver, to make sure prisoners are buckled into seat belts so they don’t move around, fall down or injure themselves. The city’s “apartheid schools” are overcrowded and underfunded; residents throughout the city say they are harassed by police; and Baltimore’s city government has an issue with transparency, prohibiting some alleged victims of police violence from speaking publicly about their experiences. Until then, seven days a week, he stands behind the counter of a shop he doesn’t own, while nearby, Young sits idly on the stoop of a ramshackle house he can’t purchase.

Over half of all people released from Maryland’s prison system annually return to Sandtown-Winchester, where the violent crime rate is 23 incidents per 1,000 residents — around six times the national rate. The core reason for the unrest in impoverished West Baltimore that awful day and night last spring, the two men say, was this: People have dreams that feel forever out of reach. “It’s like, you teach a man to fish, he eats forever,” Young says. “You give a man a check, he’s just going to keep waiting around for another check. . . . Pastor Greg James, of Florida, said he appreciated Sanders’ focus on restoring prisoner voting rights after they reenter the community, a passion he said stems from his own 14-year incarceration on conspiracy and drug charges. “Every person who’s been turning back should be given a full opportunity to vote and be a part of society,” he said. “No taxation without restoration.” Sanders’ event came at the same time he received the endorsement of the Working Families Party, the progressive group’s first-ever national endorsement.

Everyone can see it’s a blighted community, so yes, we need money … but if it’s only going to remove us from our homes and put us into another blighted community where we’ll still be struggling, then that’s not going to solve the problem,” she said. And Young shrugs. “Ain’t nothing changed out here.” For weeks after the mayhem, the nonprofit Baltimore Development Corporation dispatched “geographic teams” to canvass nearly every block on the city’s west side and hand out offers of financial help for property repairs, according to spokeswoman Susan Yum. “We identified a little over 400 businesses that had been directly impacted by the riots,” she says.

The group said Sanders overwhelmingly prevailed in a vote of its members, earning 87.4 percent support to Clinton’s 11.5 percent and O’Malley’s 1.1 percent. Several prosecution witnesses — including training academy instructors and a top-ranking commander — testified that officers should always secure detainees with seat belts, and should quickly summon medical help when someone complains of a problem.

Francis added that she worried that a typical approach would be taken to economically developing the area — meaning developers would move in, gentrify the area and push out residents who could help rebuild. Turner, the former Ohio senator, who ran a failed bid for secretary of state last year, said that if Sanders wins the nomination, he will be able to win Ohio where she lost because of the state’s more Democratic lean in presidential years. “We delivered the presidency to Democrats twice, in 2008 and 2012,” she said. “In 2012, they said it couldn’t be done, that President Obama was on the ropes. Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development says it awarded about $1.4 million in loans to nearly 50 businesses and set aside an additional $2.7 million for other post-riot revitalization efforts. D’antuono’s message: “It stops with cops.” He says he’s trying to persuade police officers not to let fellow officers get away with sometimes deadly violence against defenseless citizens. Cellphone video footage of Gray wailing and dragging his feet in apparent pain as police loaded him into the van sparked weeks of protest against police brutality.

It’s another day in Baltimore.” “We need them to knock on the doors, not just take a 10-minute bus ride into our community and see all the boarded-up buildings,” she said. “We need you to get out of your cars and talk to the people who live there. And by the end of July, three months after the rioting, the state says, insurers had paid $13 million in riot-related damage claims by merchants and residents. They don’t live on my street.” “They say they do, but I don’t see them at the grocery store,” she continued. “I don’t see them getting the rats off of the sidewalk or all of the debris and all the stones falling down into their playgrounds.

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams on Monday denied a defense motion for a mistrial regarding whether Gray had a pre-existing back injury but said defense attorneys could use the documents in question to build their own case. Prosecutors say Porter is partially responsible for Gray’s death for failing the buckle him into a seatbelt, and for not calling a medic when Gray indicated he was injured. Amid nationwide concern about overzealous police conduct, particularly in poor communities, the fiery rioting after Gray’s funeral put Baltimore on TV screens across the country, damaging Charm City’s brand, civic boosters say. Gray would get hurt” — a sentiment that could sway the jury. “The defense will be out to establish that he is just not the kind of guy who would knowingly put somebody under his care in a situation where they could be hurt,” Gray said. Gray to the hospital with Officer Goodson and that they agreed to do so after the van arrived at the Western District police station to drop off another prisoner.

If you treat them like dogs, they’re going to act like a pack of wild dogs.” Carter’s side of West North, between Pennsylvania and North Carey Street, is a forlorn stretch of three-story brick tenements with storefronts — Hair Jazz, A&M Grocery, a payday lender, Smitty’s Furniture, Tax Pro$ (“No cash kept on premises”) — and is anchored at one end by the upstairs rowhouse law office of Ike Dixon. “Bankruptcy, Criminal Defense, Personal Injury,” his sign reads, the gamut of legal concerns in Penn-North. Knots of young people in hoodies and Timberlands loiter on stoops, break apart, wander to other clusters and, in a while, regroup elsewhere on the block, on different stairs.

The 24-year-old looter who torched the CVS, igniting a fire in the paper-goods aisle in view of a surveillance camera, lived a mile away in Reservoir Hill. He pleaded guilty to a federal crime and was sentenced to 48 months in prison. “A lot of our senior citizens depended on that CVS for their medicine,” Carter says ruefully. Out front sweeping, or taking the sun, or dragging on a Newport, he has a pleasant word for all who pass. “Mister James,” the drug boys call him, politely. In return, they’ll leave a few dollars in a kitty under the counter, to help customers who are light in the wallet when they stop in to pay their bills. “They’re just trying to survive,” says Carter, whose workplace was only slightly damaged by the rioting. “When I see people selling drugs, I see a question: Why are you selling drugs?

And once you have a criminal record, nobody wants to look at you.” “The way I want to set up all my stores is, you show me an ID, you show me a Social Security card, and you’re hired, let’s do this thing,” Carter says. “I don’t care if they were locked up. Because I know they want to do the right thing.” He says: “I tell them, ‘Just hold tight.’ I tell them, ‘As I open my stores, if you can sell that crap out here, you got a talent for selling.’ I tell them, ‘You can come work for me.’ ” He graduated in 2006 from Baltimore’s Digital Harbor High, a magnet school for information technology; he studied at Baltimore City Community College for a while, then went to trade school to become a pharmacy technician. “I finished the training, but when they gave me a drug test, I didn’t pass that,” he says. “Sooo . . . yeah, yeah.” On the corners, one thing led to another, and he caught some possession charges. He has one case pending, to wit: “controlled dangerous substance, not marijuana.” Place of residence? “With friends; I got a spot.” Occupation? I sur-vive.” The rest of his biography is an old story in these parts. “I grew up in a rough environment,” Young says. “My mom really doesn’t have much, you feel me? You could vote for me.” His voicing trailing off, he says, “I would like to, yeah.” But certain impediments to a campaign keep occurring to him: “I got too much s— going on, too much s— behind me.” In the weeks after criminal charges were filed against the six officers, many of their colleagues, demoralized and fearful of being second-guessed, seemed to dial down their enforcement tempo on the streets.

And Young, like others, took notice. “They just backed off,” he says. “You could do whatever the f— you wanted to out here for, like, a month.” In that environment, from late April to late May, the city recorded more than 30 homicides — a startling total even for Baltimore, which has long been notorious for its high murder rate. You get all your money back!’ ” He says he tried to explain the bidding process to his friends. “My actual plan was, we get that $5,000 together and just kind of — what’s the proper word? It was like trying to tell somebody that lived in the 1300s that the Earth is a big circle, and we’re floating around in the middle of nothing, revolving around this big, hot ball.

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