Va. police chief: Porter’s treatment of Freddie Gray was ‘reasonable’

11 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Freddie Gray Trial: Man in Van With Gray Expected to Testify.

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). Chief Timothy Longo, of the Charlottesville, Va. police department, testified Thursday that it’s the van driver — in this case Officer Caeser Goodson, Jr. — who was responsible for making sure Freddie Gray was safe.

He testified that Gray never told him he couldn’t breathe and that he never considered Gray’s injuries and emergency until he was unresponsive at the final van stop at the Western District. William Porter’s trial is the first in the most high-profile and high-stakes in-custody death case in the city’s recent history, and whether jurors believe his testimony will likely be the deciding factor in determining the verdict. Prosecutors say Porter was criminally negligent because he didn’t call a medic when Gray indicated he needed aid and he didn’t buckle Gray into a seat belt at the van’s fourth stop. Porter was poised and calm as he testified in his own defense Wednesday, telling jurors he didn’t call an ambulance for Gray because Gray was alert, appeared uninjured and didn’t complain of any pain or wounds.

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. Longo told jurors that all officers must use their discretion when determining how to interpret a policy or procedure, such as the Baltimore department’s requirement that detainees be buckled in.

The state’s emergency-management agency, the National Guard and the Maryland State Police are all on standby in the event of riots following the jury’s verdict, he said. 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.

Kevin Davis, the city’s new police commissioner, said police officers have been newly trained and equipped to deal with any trouble, and the department is working to improve community relations. “The world is watching, and we will emerge stronger than ever,” he said. He says it must have occurred after Porter’s last interaction with Gray, at stop five when Gray was still able to speak, and before the prisoner was found unconscious at the last stop. Officer William Porter, who is also black, faces manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges stemming from Gray’s death. Gray suffered a “complete” spinal cord injury that would have rendered him paralyzed and unable to speak or breathe almost immediately. “I don’t believe it was a survivable injury,” the doctor testified.

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