Cop Contradicts Doctor’s Report on Freddie Gray

     BALTIMORE (CN) — Taking the stand in the Freddie Gray murder trial Monday, a Baltimore police officer cast doubt on the timeline given by the state’s medical expert.
     Gray died on April 19, 2015 — a week after the 25-year-old sustained a critical spinal cord while arresting officers transported him to the police station — but police dispute when the injury occurred.
     Testifying Friday in the murder trial of officer Caesar Goodson, the assistant medical director who ruled Gray’s death a homicide said the critical injury occurred between the second and fourth stops while Goodson drove Gray in a van to the police station.
     Notably Gray was handcuffed and shackled but not seatbelted for the 45-minute van ride.
     Dr. Carol Allen testified that Gray’s injury, which included broken vertebrae, a severed spinal cord and crush voice box, would have been “catastrophic and immediate,” and would have left him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to speak.
     Another of the six officers charged with Gray’s death told the court today, however, that his experience in the van contradicted Allen’s findings.
     William Porter, an officer whom Maryland’s highest court had to compel to testify, said Gray showed no outward signs of distress at any of the stops prior to the sixth and final stop at the Western District Police Station where he was unresponsive.
     The officer faces his own manslaughter trial on Gray’s death this summer and argued unsuccessfully that testifying in Goodson’s case would violate his right against self-incrimination.
     Accompanied at proceedings today by his attorney Joseph Murtha, Porter told the court that Gray asked him to go the hospital while they talked at the third stop.
     He said Gray had no difficulties speaking or breathing, and was able to assist Porter when he helped Gray off the floor of the van and into a seated position.
     Porter said he told Goodson of Gray’s request, but that an urgent call for backup ended the conversation prematurely.
     Testifying that he had “a relationship of mutual respect” with Gray, Porter said Gray was lethargic at stop five and again requested to go to the hospital, but that he did not have any outward signs he needed medical help.
     Prosecutors called a new medical witness to the stand Monday afternoon to undermine Porter’s description of the van ride.
     Dr. Morris Mark Soriano said Gray may have been able to hold up his head and interact with police, despite the severe neck injury he sustained during the “rough ride” in the back of a police van.
     The effects of Gray’s injury may have been further exaggerated, Soriano said, if police moved him or it he continued to be jostled in the back of the van.
     The prosecution has called at least a dozen witnesses to testify in the first week of Goodson’s trial.
     Police detained Gray after he ran from officers, unprovoked, in what has been called a high-crime area.
     While the officers say Gray was arrested for carrying an illegal switchblade knife, prosecutors announcing charges against six officers last year said the weapon was not illegal and that police lacked probable cause.
     Prosecutors first introduced the theory during opening statements that Goodson gave Gray a “rough ride.” A “rough ride” is a type of police punishment for individuals, who resist arrest or make a scene in public about their arrest. Cellphone of Gray’s arrest shot by bystanders shows the man yelling in apparent pain after police chased him down.
     Officerrs say Gray actively resisted arrest — screaming, kicking and rocking the police van where officers placed him on his stomach.
     Officers put Gray in shackles at the second stop but failed to secure him with a seatbelt, despite general orders to do so from Baltimore’s police commissioner.
     After the third stop Porter responded to a fellow officer’s request for immediate backup. Soon afterward, Goodson also responded to a request for a police van to transport another arrestee close by.
     Goodson, 46, is the only one of the six officers charged with murder.
     Judge Barry Williams is presiding over the officer’s bench trial. Last month, the same jurist acquitted Officer Edward Nero of four misdemeanor charges related to Gray’s death.
     Porter had been first officer to go on trial, but a jury deadlocked on the manslaughter charge. His retrial is scheduled for the summer.
     Gray’s death sparked outrage in a community that has had difficult relations with the police. Protests turned violent on the heels of Gray’s funeral, and a rash of arson and riots gripped the neighborhood of West Baltimore, where Gray had been a resident.
     Testimony is expected to continue on Tuesday where prosecutors are expected to present evidence of the “rough ride” theory.

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