Testimony from officer charged in Freddie Gray case

10 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Baltimore Officials Call For Peace Ahead Of Freddie Gray Verdict.

William G. Baltimore’s mayor and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis joined local community leaders calling for peaceful, non-violent reactions to the verdict from Officer Porter’s jury. “We have to respect their opinion.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 (all times local).

William Porter rose from his seat Wednesday morning and stepped toward the witness stand even before his attorney officially called his name, before the people in the gallery and the lawyers at the trial tables in Baltimore Circuit Court had settled into their seats after a brief recess. Porter was present at five of the van’s six stops during a 45-minute ride, and prosecutors say Gray suffered the critical spinal injury that eventually killed him during the van’s fourth stop. Not surprisingly, the young police officer was eager to testify in his own defense, to answer a prosecutor’s accusation that he had shown a “callous indifference” to the late Freddie Gray by not securing him with a seat belt in a police van and failing to summon medical help when asked.

At the station, he held Gray – who he knew from the West Baltimore neighborhood where he was arrested – in a “life saving position” as he waited what “felt like an eternity” for a medic to arrive. “It was a very traumatic thing for me also,” Porter said. “Just seeing him in the neighborhood every day, and calling his name, and not getting a response.” Joseph Murtha, one of Porter’s attorneys, got on the floor of the courtroom, pretending to be Gray, as Porter described what positions Gray was in at different stops of the van. But this is about respecting the process and respecting our city,” Rawlings-Blake said. “We’re not going to allow human beings to hurt other human beings. Porter said he suggested to the van driver, Officer Caesar Goodson, that Goodson take Gray to the hospital because he knew a prisoner claiming injury would be turned away from jail. Gray was handcuffed and shackled at the time. “Dirty,” of course, means being in possession of illegal narcotics, and there, in the opening flourish of the defendant’s highly anticipated testimony, the jury got a dose of Porter’s cop-talk — a combination of street vernacular and the paramilitary jargon of the Baltimore Police Department that colored the officer’s descriptions of events of Sunday, April 12.

The officer seemed to suggest one of his colleagues was more responsible for Gray’s care, and he talked at length about his own upbringing in the same area that Gray called home. Through the first 90 minutes of his testimony, the 26-year-old Porter, stocky in build and a bit baby-faced, answered questions in a clear and confident voice. Prosecutor Michael Schatzow pressed Porter on Wednesday about an apparent discrepancy between the officer’s first interview with a police investigator and his later interview and testimony.

The testimony is pivotal, as jurors’ impression of Porter will undoubtedly shape whether they find him guilty of involuntary manslaughter in Gray’s death in police custody. The investigator said earlier in Porter’s manslaughter trial that the officer told her that Gray had said, “I can’t breathe” during a ride in a transport van.

Porter, 26, also said he has participated in 150 arrests involving police transport vans, and that none of the detainees in those arrests were ever seat-belted in them. The department requires detainees to be buckled up and the policy was updated just days before Gray’s arrest, leaving no ambiguity about whether a prisoner should be belted in. The trial comes as police agencies across the nation grapple with how to convince the public that the legal system can provide justice when its own are accused of wrongdoing. Porter added that it would have been Goodson’s responsibility to buckle Gray into a seatbelt and he didn’t know if Goodson did so at the fourth stop because he left the scene before as the driver was closing the van doors. In a later recorded statement played for jurors, Porter said Gray only asked him for help off the van floor, and said yes when Porter asked if the man needed a medic.

Here are some of the words and phrases Porter used during Wednesday morning’s testimony: “Interview position”: The position Porter says he was in while speaking with an agitated bystander who was upset with the way Gray had been treated by other officers. “Antiquated”: Porter’s adjective for the computer system at the Western Police District, invoked as part of the defense’s strategy to suggest that a hard-working police officer in one of the city’s busiest districts might have missed an emailed order about using seat belts to secure people in custody in vans. “10-16”: Code for an officer in need of backup. Wearing a gray suit and a navy blue tie, Porter appeared relaxed as he described his upbringing, his previous encounters with Gray and what he did on the day Gray was fatally injured.

When Porter tried to explain why he didn’t immediately seek medical attention for Gray, Gray’s family members, seated in the courtroom, shook their heads. He went off to meet the van at Druid Hill Avenue and Dolphin Street. “Push-put”: When asked about the moment Gray got into the police van, Porter used this word, slipping between “push” and “put,” saying, “I saw him being push-put into the van.” “Jailitis”: A term used to describe people who feign an ailment or injury after they’ve been arrested and are facing transport to Central Booking. “Typically,” Porter said, “people who are arrested don’t want to be arrested.” “Stop Snitching”: The jurors might be Baltimore citizens, but Porter did not assume they all knew this phrase. Meanwhile, the first defense witness Wednesday disputed the prosecution’s timeline for when Gray was injured and said the local medical examiner got it wrong when she ruled Gray’s death a homicide.

If convicted on all of the charges, the maximum penalty he faces is about 25 years. “He never made a complaint of pain or an injury,” Porter said. “In order to call for an ambo I need age, sex, location and complaint of injury. He said Gray’s spinal cord was 80 percent crushed. “You had a head and a body and they were disconnected,” he said. “You aren’t feeling anything. Porter, who was the defense’s second witness, testified for more than four hours before Officer Zachary Novak, who was present during Gray’s arrest and when the wagon arrived at the police station.

His testimony followed that of a retired medical examiner testified that Gray suffered his fatal neck injury after Porter twice checked on his health, and that Gray’s death was “just an accident.” The medical examiner, Dr. He disputed virtually every significant finding by the state medical examiner in the case — including her classification of the death as a homicide.

If they believe Di Maio, they might infer that Porter could not have intervened in any meaningful way and thus could not be held responsible for the death. Demonstrating with his attorney how he helped Gray up, Porter said it “would be physically impossible, to physically pick him up and put him some place” if Gray could not move. “He obviously assisted me,” Porter testified.

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