Wednesday, October 4, 2023
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Prosecution Wraps in First Freddie Gray Trial

BALTIMORE (CN) - After resting the state's case Tuesday against the first of six Baltimore police officers being tried for the death of Freddie Gray, a prosecutor told the court that William Porter showed a "callous indifference for life."

"A reasonable officer follows orders and directives," chief deputy state's attorney Michael Schatzow told the Baltimore Circuit Court, fighting a defense motion to dismiss the manslaughter charge against Porter for lack of evidence.

Prosecutors accuse 26-year-old Porter of ignoring Gray's cries for medical help during a 45-minute ride to the Western District Police Station after Gray's arrest on April 12.

Gray died of severe spinal cord injury on April 19, and his funeral was marked by riots across Baltimore later that month.

The 25-year-old Gray had been face-down in the transport van, shackled and handcuffed, for most of the six-stop ride, but Porter told investigators that he helped sit Gray up on a bench at the fourth stop and told the van driver that Gray needed to go to the hospital.

Prosecutors say the failure to buckle Gray into the van violated department policies, but defense attorney Gary Proctor says the state failed to present enough evidence. After the court dismissed the jury for the day, Porter told Judge Barry Williams that there has been no proof that any failure to buckle in Gray or get him immediate medical help rose to a "gross, wanton, deliberate" act, necessary to prove involuntary manslaughter.

Proctor said the state offered no testimony that what Porter did or didn't do deviated from "what a reasonable officer would do."

Judge Williams said there was sufficient evidence presented for the case to proceed.

The defense will begin its case Wednesday, and trial is expected to last until Dec. 17.

One of the last witnesses to testify for the state Tuesday morning was Michael Lyman, a professor of criminal justice at Columbia College, in Columbia, Mo.

Lyman said written directives and general orders, such as those issued by the Baltimore Police Department regarding the use of safety belts, are "the backbone of police policy."

Prior to his nearly three decades in academia, Lyman served as a law enforcement official.

He testified Tuesday that seat-belting, or making sure a detainee is properly restrained, is "a shared responsibility," and not just that of the transport vehicle driver.

Unlike the other officers charged in Gray's death, only the driver of the van, Caesar Goodson Jr., faces a murder charge.

In addition to saying officers have the responsibility to ensure the safety of those arrested, "especially when [the detainee] is in hand and leg restraints," Lyman also testified that officers are responsible for securing medical attention as quickly as possible for a detainee in medical distress.

Schatzow asked the witness to name the appropriate response from officers for a list of hypothetical scenarios, including circumstances that Gray allegedly faced, such as lying on the floor of the van asking for help, communicating he couldn't breathe and replying affirmatively that he needed a medic.

Lyman said officers need to make a determination as to where the nearest hospital is and then bring the detainee there as soon as possible.

Thomas Wisner, a crime lab technician, serologist Virginia Cates and DNA analyst Thomas Herbert rounded out the witness list for the state Tuesday.

Wiser testified that he processed the van during the investigation one day after Gray's death and eight days after the actual arrest. Wisner took photos of the van and swabs he believed may have contained blood. These samples were then processed by Cates, who confirmed blood was present in the samples and Herbert was able to match DNA from the samples with the DNA of Gray.

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