The Latest: Gray taken into custody twice in March

AP News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2015 7:39 PM

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).

7:30 p.m.

Defense attorneys say they have a document indicating Freddie Gray complained in March to a police officer that he had a back injury, and online court records show Gray was taken into custody twice that month in Baltimore.

Officer William Porter is one of six officers charged in Gray's April arrest and death. His defense attorneys asked for a mistrial Monday because prosecutors had not disclosed the document to them. The judge denied the motion, but said they could use the document at the trial.

According to court records, Gray was charged March 13 with assault and malicious destruction of property. He was taken into custody March 18 and released the same day on $3,500 bond. Gray was also arrested March 20 for drug possession. He was released the same day on $5,000 bond.

In his opening statement, defense attorney Gary Proctor described an arrest of Gray a few weeks before his April 12 encounter with the six officers charged in his arrest and death. Proctor said Porter was aware Gray had a history of causing a ruckus during arrests, citing an arrest a few weeks earlier in which Gray allegedly tried to kick out the windows of a police vehicle.

When asked for police reports on the earlier arrests, Baltimore Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith said they had to be obtained through a public records request. Police did not immediately respond Monday to that request.

It was not clear if any of the March incidents were the ones referred to by defense attorneys Monday in the document they described to the judge.

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6:10 p.m.

A judge has denied a defense motion for a mistrial in the manslaughter trial of a Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams ruled Monday that the trial will continue despite a defense assertion that prosecutors failed to disclose information. The defense says prosecutors didn't let them know that Gray had told a police officer in March, a month before his fatal injury, "I hurt my back. I have a bad back."

Defense attorneys say they learned of the statement over the weekend. Prosecutors say they learned about it Monday.

Earlier Monday, defense attorney Joe Murtha cross-examined an assistant state medical examiner and an expert medical witness about the possibility that Gray had a prior injury. Both witnesses said they saw no evidence of a prior injury that would account for his death.

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5:45 p.m.

A Baltimore Fire Department paramedic who treated Freddie Gray has testified that in her 17-year career, she has never refused a police call for an ambulance.

Angelique Herbert testified Monday on the sixth day of Baltimore Police Officer William Porter's manslaughter trail.

Porter told investigators that he and the driver of the van in which Gray's neck was broken didn't call for an ambulance because Gray was already in the van. Porter said medics don't want to transport prisoners who are already in a police vehicle.

Porter said a statement to investigators that he urged the van driver to take Gray to a hospital. Instead, Gray was taken to a police station, where a medic was called. Herbert says that when she arrived, Gray wasn't breathing and no one was giving him first aid.

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3:55 p.m.

An expert medical witness for the state says prompt medical attention would have likely prevented Freddie Gray's death.

Dr. Morris Soriano, an Illinois neurosurgeon, testified Monday at the manslaughter trial of Officer William Porter, who is accused of not getting Gray medical help even though he requested it after being put in a police van.

Soriano says Gray's injury came from forces similar to a motorcycle rider being thrown from a bike, or an unrestrained car passenger being ejected. He says Gray could not have broken his neck by intentionally banging his head against the walls of the van. Porter said in a statement to investigators that he could hear Gray banging in the back of the vehicle.

Soriano testified as an expert witness in a case involving Dondi Johnson, a Baltimore man who was arrested in 2005 for public urination and left paralyzed after riding in the back of a police van. Johnson died two weeks later. His family won a $7.4 million settlement against the police officers involved.

According to Soriano's testimony, Johnson suffered an injury in the same section of his spinal cord as Gray, and that in pulling the man out of the van, the officers exacerbated his injury. Like Gray, Johnson was not buckled into a seat belt.

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12:30 p.m.

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.

Carol Allan testified under cross-examination Monday. Prosecutors contend Porter's failure to call a medic contributed to Gray's death.

Porter is facing manslaughter and other charges in the death of Gray, who injured his spine in the back of the police van.

Porter told investigators he and wagon driver Caesar Goodson had agreed Gray should go to the hospital. That was after Gray, shackled hand and foot on the floor of the van, asked Porter for help at the vehicle's fourth stop.

Instead, Goodson picked up a prisoner at another location, and then drove to a police station.

Porter and Goodson are among six Baltimore police officers charged in the case. Goodson's trial will be next year.

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10 a.m.

One of the jurors has been replaced at the trial of a Baltimore police officer charged with manslaughter in the death of Freddie Gray.

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. She's been replaced on the 12-member panel by alternate juror number one, a man.

The substitution shifts the makeup of the jury to seven women and five men.

The change came on the sixth day of the trial of Officer William Porter. He's the first of six officers charged in the case to face trial.

Gray was a 25-year-old black man who died in April after suffering a neck injury in police custody. Officer Porter is also black.

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10 a.m.

A persistent protester is continuing his demonstration outside the Baltimore courthouse where the first trial of a police officer charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray enters its second week.

Seventy-two-year-old Arthur Johnson carried a sign Monday reading, "Justice for Freddie Gray." The sign also bore a photo of the 25-year-old black man whose death from injuries he suffered in police custody prompted rioting in Baltimore last April.

Johnson says he's a retired Bethlehem Steel crane operator. He has been among the few demonstrators to show up daily.

Officer William Porter, who is also black, is charged with manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. He's the first of six officers charged in connection with Gray's death to face trial.

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6:15 a.m.

Assistant medical examiner Dr. Carol Allan will continue her testimony Monday in the trial of William Porter, one of six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Allan testified Friday that Gray died of a neck injury, and that his death was ruled a homicide.

Gray's injury, a spinal contusion near his brain stem, was so severe that it caused swelling, bleeding and tissue death. 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.

Trial resumes Monday.