In Baltimore, not even Santa on a Harley can ease tensions from Freddie Gray case

7 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Baltimore officer’s information at coronary heart of Freddie Grey trial.

BALTIMORE (AP) — The latest on the trial of a Baltimore police officer who is charged with manslaughter in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who was injured in the back of a police transport van.BALTIMORE — An assistant state medical examiner says she would not have ruled Freddie Gray’s death a homicide if a police van driver had taken Gray to the hospital, as Officer William Porter suggested.

Zeroing on a pivotal point in a case that led to rioting and protests, defense attorney Joseph Murtha accused medical examiner Carol Allan of departing from professional standards in her ruling, possibly bowing to political pressure to bring charges against Porter and five other Baltimore police officers. Citing the National Association of Medical Examiners’ definition of homicide as a “volitional act,” Murtha implied that Allan should have ruled Gray’s death an accident during a cross-examination that grew so testy the judge threatened Murtha with contempt of court. Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams announced at the outset of Monday’s session that juror number eight, a woman, has been excused due to a medical emergency.

He added that he was unsure that prosecutors could prove that Porter knew there was a high risk of death or serious injury by not getting Gray medical attention. Allan said medical examiners in different regions and different cases often depart from the standard definition in reaching the conclusion that a death is a homicide. Porter, who is black, has told investigators he helped Gray onto a van bench and passed on Gray’s request for medical assistance to driver Officer Caesar Goodson and Sergeant Alicia White. Williams angrily threatened to hold Murtha in contempt for inserting his opinions into his heated questioning by insisting that Gray’s death should have been ruled accidental.

The outcome of the six officers’ trials could influence U.S. prosecutors in bringing similar charges in cases of alleged police brutality, according to legal experts. By that time, he was unresponsive. “The defense is going to argue that Officer Porter was forthcoming, candid, had nothing to hide and that’s going to be their theory. Warren Alperstein, a former Baltimore prosecutor, said the defense had shown that Porter may have been unaware of a new policy that mandated that all passengers fasten seat belts in police vehicles. “I suspect that an argument grounded in common sense and logic will be made to the jury whereby the defense attorneys ask the jury, ‘Do you read every email you get within a day or two… without being prompted?’” Alperstein said. “If the paramedics couldn’t detect that it was a spinal cord injury, how could you expect an officer with barely two years on the force to distinguish whether it’s a fake injury or real?” he said. (Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington and Donna Owens in Baltimore; Editing by Scott Malone and Dan Grebler) They’re going to live with the statements that he made and they’re going to try to turn it into a positive,” said University of Maryland Professor Doug Colbert.

Allen says there is no evidence that Freddie Gray was tased or beaten and she continues to reject defense allegations that she was pressured into calling it a homicide. An autopsy report says Gray suffered the injury sometime between the second and fourth stop in the roughly 45-minute van ride between the scene of the arrest and when Gray was found unresponsive at the Western District station house, but could have been exacerbated because it wasn’t treated right away. Jurors saw a 55-minute video of Porter in a police interview room telling investigators that he thought Gray was tired from kicking and rocking the police van after his arrest. It didn’t initially appear that Gray was injured, Porter told detectives. “It was always a big scene when you tried to arrest Freddie Gray,” Porter told investigators during his videotaped interview. “After a while, you’re kicking around in the wagon, and your adrenaline begins to settle.” Exactly how Gray was injured was unclear, but prosecutors have alleged that Porter and his colleagues are responsible for his death.

They said Gray suffered a severe spinal injury in the police wagon, hitting his head because he was handcuffed and in leg shackles but not in a seat belt. But just when and how the injury occurred during a van ride that included six stops and involved multiple officers interacting with Gray remain far from clear. Allan said that she had no physical evidence to prove that Gray got up inside the van, but that his injury could be sustained only in such a way that led her to that conclusion.

Murtha said Porter had told Goodson that he did not think Gray would be admitted to central booking because of his poor condition and that he needed medical attention. They say Porter became a police officer to help the community where he grew up but worked for a department that rarely followed its own rules and made it hard for officers to understand its ever-changing policies.

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