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Friday, April 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Videos Show Errors in Handling Freddie Gray

BALTIMORE (CN) - Jurors in the trial of Baltimore police officer William Porter on Thursday saw two cellphone videos showing the initial arrest of Freddie Gray and a subsequent stop of the police van in which Gray suffered a spinal injury.

The videos were presented during testimony of Brandon Ross, a friend of Gray. The 25-year-old Gray was critically injured while in police custody in April.

Ross was with him on the morning of his arrest and was among the eight witness called by the state on Thursday.

The first two-minute video, labeled "Kevin Moore video," included images of Gray being dragged, screaming, by uniformed officers and lifted into the back of the prisoner transport van.

A second video shot by Ross showed officers working on Gray outside the van at a location where prosecutors say wrist and ankle restraints were applied before Gray was placed on the floor of the van instead of buckling him in a seat.

Earlier Thursday, the van in which Gray was transported in took center stage during the third day of the trial.

Just before noon, jurors were lead to the parking garage of Courthouse East where they inspected the inside of the vehicle where, prosecutors argue, Gray sustained his critical injury because he was not buckled in following his April 12 arrest.

Porter, 26, faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment Gray's death. Prosecutors claim Porter failed to buckle Gray into the van and then failed to provide medical aid to Gray when it was requested. Porter is the first of six officers to be tried on the charges.

An autopsy showed Gray suffered a "high-energy injury" in the van. The medical examiner's office ruled that his death was a homicide and could not be classified as an accident because of "acts of omission" - the officers didn't follow safety protocols regarding arrestees.

Defense attorneys continued to argue the responsibility lies with the city's police department, which they claim didn't provide adequate communication and internal policy understanding to its officers.

Just three days prior to Gray's arrest, the department issued a policy of seat belting all those being transported. Porter was not the van's driver, but responded to assist other officers with Gray at multiple stops on the van's route.

Thursday morning's testimony centered on Porter's training on the rules and procedures he is accused of not following.

Prosecutors indicted six officers about a month after Gray's death, resulting in widespread unrest in portions of Baltimore a series of protests and demonstrations that continue to this day.

It took two days to question nearly 150 perspective jurors, and ultimately three white women, five black women, one white man and three black men were seated. The alternate jury pool includes three black men and one white man.

The defense made opening remarks on Wednesday that Porter was unaware of the seat belt order issued just three days prior to Gray's death, claiming the email announcing the new policy was buried in more than 1,400 pages of work emails.

State prosecutors argued that Porter had multiple opportunities to help Gray at least five of the van's six stops. They said Porter chose not to help Gray despite a conversation in which Gray told Porter he could not move from the floor of the van.

Porter had the vehicle stop and helped sit Gray on the bench, but did not buckle him in as police training requires, prosecutors said.

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