The Latest: Defense says officer thought Gray was faking

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 02, 2015 6:06 PM
The Latest: Defense says officer thought Gray was faking

BALTIMORE (AP) — The latest on the trial of a police officer accused in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a spinal injury in the back of a transport van (all times local):

5:05 p.m.

An attorney for an officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray suggested that the officer suspected Gray had a case of "jail-itis," police slang for feigning an injury to avoid going to jail, when he complained he couldn't breathe.

Although Officer William Porter heard Gray say, "I can't breathe," during the arrest, defense attorney Gary Proctor said Porter knew of Gray's recalcitrant behavior during other run-ins with police and "knew he didn't go quietly."

The defense attorney says that when Porter saw Gray becoming more passive, although still requesting a medic, during successive stops of the van, the officer assumed the prisoner had exhausted himself rocking the vehicle early in the ride.

The attorney said Porter had learned from experience that requesting a medic could mean the prisoner would spend hours in the emergency room and would need a doctor's note clearing him to go to jail.

Under cross-examination, an officer who trained Porter at the police academy acknowledged that officers sometimes must "do a little detective work" to determine if a subject's medical complaints are valid. But under direct examination, Officer Alice Carson-Johnson said she hoped an officer would already have called for an ambulance before trying to determine why a subject is saying they can't breathe.

___

5 p.m.

A defense attorney for an officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray used a twist on a Black Lives Matter slogan during opening statements in the officer's trial.

Defense attorney Gary Proctor told jurors Wednesday: "Let's show Baltimore the whole damn system is not guilty as hell." That's a spin-off of a chant protesters in the movement have been using. The demonstrators say: "Indict, convict, send that killer cop to jail, the whole damn system is guilty as hell."

The protesters have chanted the saying during rallies where police have been criticized for mistreating young black men.

Prosecutors say Gray died after he broke his neck in the back of a police van. Officer William Porter is accused of failing to request medical help for Gray and buckle him up in the van. Porter faces manslaughter and other charges in Gray's death.

___

4 p.m.

The state's first witness in the trial for Officer William Porter is a woman who trained him at the Baltimore police academy in 2013.

Officer Alice Carson-Johnson told jurors that Porter was trained in how to respond to medical emergencies in the field. Porter faces manslaughter and other charges in the death of Freddie Gray.

Johnson says part of her job is instructing police recruits on how to call for help when people indicate that they are injured or in distress. Johnson said the most important thing is for officers to make sure they themselves are safe. But when a member of the public asks for a medic, Johnson said officers should call 911.

Prosecutors say Gray asked Porter for help and told him he couldn't breathe, but the officer didn't call for a medic.

___

3:10 p.m.

Attorneys for an officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray are disputing when the young black man was injured in the back of a police transport van.

Defense attorney Gary Proctor told jurors Wednesday that Officer William Porter asked Gray if he needed medical attention at the fourth stop the van made during Gray's 45-minute journey to the police station, but decided against calling a medic because Gray "wasn't wincing."

The defense attorney says there was not one word about Gray not being able to breathe. Earlier, prosecutors told jurors that Gray said he needed medical help and that he couldn't breathe.

Prosecutors had also said Gray was on his knees, slumped over and injured by the time he reached the van's fifth stop. But the defense attorney said the fact that Gray was on his knees at all suggests his neck had not yet been broken.

The attorney also told jurors that a man who shared the transport van with Gray from the fifth stop to the final stop at the Western District station house told investigators that Gray was flailing in the van, attempting to injure himself. Prosecutors said Gray didn't change positions between the fifth stop and the final stop because he'd already suffered the injury.

___

2:20 p.m.

A defense attorney for one of six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray says his client should not be held responsible for simply checking on the young black man during a police van ride.

Defense attorney Gary Proctor said during opening statements Wednesday that when Gray began requesting aid "he showed no signs of needing medical attention because he hadn't suffered the injury yet."

Prosecutors say Gray died after his neck was broken in the back of a police van. They also say he should've been buckled into a seatbelt and that Officer William Porter is criminally responsible for failing to render aid.

Proctor characterized Porter as a man born and raised in West Baltimore who became a police officer "not to swing a big stick, but to help people."

He told the jury that they "may hope finding him guilty will quell unrest," but that Porter committed no crime.

___

1:50 p.m.

A prosecutor says Freddie Gray's neck was broken during a ride in a police van and implied that the injury occurred when the van slammed on its brakes.

Prosecutor Michael Schatzow said Wednesday during opening statements in Officer William Porter's trial that the officer failed to put a seatbelt on Gray and didn't call a medic, even though Gray complained that he couldn't breathe.

Pointing to a poster-sized photo of the van with one of its rear doors open, Shatzow said Porter failed to buckle Gray in, as required by Baltimore Police Department policy.

He said the city paid extra to get those seat belts and "any one of which would have saved Mr. Gray's life."

Defense attorneys will present their opening statements later Wednesday.

___

12:35 p.m.

Prosecutors say an officer facing charges in the death of Freddie Gray is partially responsible for the young black man's death because he failed to render aid after Gray asked for medical attention and complained that he couldn't breathe.

Prosecutor Michael Schatzow said during opening statements Wednesday that Officer William Porter was present at five of six stops a transport van made after arresting Gray and could have easily pushed a button on his uniform to call for help.

Prosecutors say at one point, Porter asked Gray if he needed a medic, and Gray replied that he could not breathe and could not move from the floor of the van, where he had been placed head-first and in plastic handcuffs and leg shackles.

Instead of calling a medic, prosecutors say Porter picked Gray up from the floor and placed him in an upright position on the bench, and did not secure him in a seatbelt.

Schatzow said Gray's injury occurred in a section of the spinal cord where the nerves control the chest and the diaphragm. He said such an injury would have impacted Gray's ability to breathe.

He says evidence will show that Porter "criminally neglected" his duty to keep Gray safe.

Defense attorneys will present their opening statements at about 1:45 p.m., after a lunch recess.

___

11:50 a.m.

Opening statements have begun in the trial for William Porter, one of six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Prosecutor Michael Schatzow began his opening statement by recounting the day that Gray was arrested last April.

Prosecutors say Porter failed to render aid to Gray, who repeatedly asked for medical assistance.

"The defendant alone is on trial for what he did, or more importantly, what he did not do," Schatzow said.

Gray suffered a critical spine injury when he was handcuffed and shackled in a police transport van. Prosecutors also allege that Porter was negligent for failing to buckle Gray into a seatbelt.

___

11:25 a.m.

A prospective juror for the trial of a police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray says he was dismissed after telling the judge he had some "unfortunate" experiences with Baltimore police.

Franz Schneiderman said Wednesday he was interviewed individually by Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams after he indicated that he had been accused in or the victim of a crime.

Schneiderman said he told Williams that despite his experiences with Baltimore police, he believed he would be able to render a fair verdict. He was still dismissed.

Officer William Porter is the first of six officers to go on trial in the death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died after suffering a spinal injury in custody.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby arrived at the courthouse during a brief recess after a jury was seated. Opening statements are expected to begin shortly.

___

11:10 a.m.

A jury has been seated in Baltimore for the trial of a city police officer facing manslaughter and other charges in the death of Freddie Gray.

The jury was seated Wednesday in trial for Officer William Porter, the first of six officers to go to trial.

The jury is made up of eight women and four men. The four alternates are men.

Gray was a 25-year-old black man who died in April from a spinal injury he suffered while riding in the back of a police transport van.

Opening statements may be heard as early as Wednesday.

Porter faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. He's accused of failing to render aid after Gray asked for medical assistance.

Porter is also black.

___

10:30 a.m.

Jury selection has resumed for a third day in the trial for a Baltimore police officer facing manslaughter and other charges in the death of Freddie Gray.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams has so far called in 150 prospective jurors. Williams asked jurors who had been called back Wednesday whether they had anything to report that might affect their ability to be fair and impartial. Only four said they did.

A jury could be seated Wednesday afternoon.

Officer William Porter is the first of six officers to go on trial in the death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died after suffering a spinal injury in custody.

Porter is accused of failing to render aid to Gray, who was handcuffed and shackled but not buckled into a seatbelt in the back of a police transport van. Prosecutors say Gray repeatedly asked for medical attention.

Porter is expected to take the stand in his own defense.