The Latest: Police cancel upcoming leave as case nears end

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2015 7:20 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).

7:15 p.m.

The Baltimore Police Department says that as a precaution, it has canceled leave for officers next week, when the jury in the trial of Officer William Porter is expected to deliberate its verdict.

Porter is the first of six officers to go on trial for his role in Gray's arrest and death.

Police spokesman T.J. Smith said Friday that Commissioner Kevin Davis canceled leave "as part of preparations and out of an abundance of caution." Smith says the period runs from Monday through Dec. 18. Officers will work 12-hour shifts.

Davis said in a statement that "the community has an expectation for us to be prepared for a variety of scenarios."

Davis also canceled leave for officers in September during the first two pretrial hearings for Porter.

Gray's April 19 death was followed by multiple peaceful demonstrations. But unrest broke out April 25 and again on April 27, bringing a curfew and the National Guard to the streets.

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6:30 p.m.

NBC will replace one of its staff members covering the Freddie Gray trial and ABC News is apologizing to the court after Officer William Porter reported two journalists pointed their smartphones at him to capture images inside the Baltimore courthouse.

A court spokeswoman says the journalists were banned Friday from covering the rest of the first trial over Gray's death. Terri Charles says courthouse surveillance cameras showed them apparently using their cellphones to photograph the defendant.

Circuit Judge Barry Williams says he'll decide later whether to hold either journalist in contempt or order sanctions for violating a prohibition on photography inside the courthouse.

ABC News spokesman Van Scott said the ABC employee is a digital journalist who "used her cellphone to film near the courthouse's main entrance. At the time, she did not understand that this area was prohibited by the judge's rules." Scott says, "We've reminded our staff of appropriate protocol to follow. We apologize to the court for the misstep."

NBC spokeswoman Ali Zelenko says the network will send another journalist to replace the one banned from the trial. She declined to comment otherwise.

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5:45 p.m.

Prosecution and defense lawyers in the manslaughter trial of a Baltimore police officer have given a judge conflicting views on how he should instruct jurors for their deliberations.

They argued about the instructions Friday after Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams sent the jury home for the weekend. Jurors will hear instructions and closing arguments Monday in the first trial stemming from the death of Freddie Gray.

Gray's neck was broken during a ride in the back of police transport van.

Defense attorneys don't want jurors to be told they can convict Baltimore Police Officer William Porter for things he didn't do — such as failing to seat belt the prisoner or failing to call an ambulance.

Prosecutors want jurors instructed they need only reach a consensus on either omission to reach a unanimous verdict on the charges.

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4:45 p.m.

A court spokeswoman in Baltimore says two journalists have been banned from the remainder of the first trial over Freddie Gray's death after courthouse surveillance cameras showed them apparently using their cellphones to photograph the defendant inside the building.

Terri Charles said Friday the journalists for the ABC and NBC television networks have been banned from courthouse coverage of next week's closing arguments and verdict in the manslaughter trial of Baltimore Police Officer William Porter. She says the networks may send other representatives to the proceedings.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams says he'll decide later whether to hold either journalist in contempt or order sanctions for violating his prohibition on photography inside the courthouse during the trial.

Porter pointed out the journalists to courthouse security workers.

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12:30 p.m.

The defense has rested in the manslaughter trial of a Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Defense attorneys rested their case Friday after calling 12 witnesses over three days, including the defendant, William Porter.

Porter testified he spoke to Gray at two of the stops made by a van that carried Gray in handcuffs and shackles. Porter says Gray indicated at the fourth stop he needed medical care. Porter says he didn't see any injuries but told the driver and a supervisor that Gray wanted to go to the hospital.

Instead, Gray was taken to a police station, arriving with a broken neck.

Prosecutors say Porter was negligent for failing to call a medic and failing to buckle Gray in.

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11 a. m.

A Baltimore police captain says officer William Porter did nothing wrong and even went above and beyond his responsibilities as an assisting officer on the day that Freddie Gray's neck was broken in the back of a transport wagon.

Capt. Justin Reynolds, testifying as an expert witness in police training and policies, noted that Porter assisted Gray from the wagon floor to the bench, asked him if he needed medical help and suggested that wagon driver Caesar Goodson take him to the hospital. He said Porter's actions "go beyond what many officers would have done."

Porter is on trial facing manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges stemming from Gray's death on April 19, a week after he was injured in the transport wagon. Prosecutors say Porter was criminally negligent for ignoring departmental policy requiring officers to seat belt prisoners, and for failing to call a medic immediately after Gray indicated he needed aid.

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10:40 a.m.

Three character witnesses testifying in the manslaughter trial of Baltimore police officer William Porter say he is an honest, truthful and peaceful man.

They were the first witnesses called Friday, the 10th day of Porter's trial and the third day of defense testimony.

Porter is the first of six officers to stand trial on charges stemming from the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

Gray was a 25-year-old black man who died April 19, a week after his neck was broken during a 45-minute ride in the back of a police transport van.

Prosecutors say Porter, who also is black, was criminally negligent for ignoring policy requiring officers to put prisoners in seat belts and for failing to call a medic immediately after Gray indicated he needed aid.

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4:15 a.m.

Baltimore police officers testifying in the trial of a colleague charged in a prisoner's death say officers rarely put seat belts on people they transport in the department's wagons.

The officers testified Thursday in the trial of William Porter, one of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.

Officer Michael Wood told jurors that of the roughly 100 arrests he's been a party to, he's never belted in a prisoner or observed another officer buckling in a detainee.

Gray died on April 19, a week after his neck was broken in the back of a transport wagon. Prosecutors say Porter was criminally negligent for ignoring policy requiring officers to seat belt prisoners, and for failing to call a medic immediately after Gray indicated he needed aid.