BALTIMORE, MD – Prosecutors have rested their case against Baltimore Police Officer William Porter, the first of six officers to stand trial in the April death of Freddie Gray. Porter has pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
When the defense filed an unsuccessful motion on Tuesday for the judge to dismiss the case, state’s attorney Michael Schatzow argued that “This defendant did nothing to get him a medic or get him to the hospital. He did nothing when he could have saved a man’s life.”
The judge recessed court for the rest of the day, with the defense scheduled to pick up its case at 9:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
Gray was taken into police custody on April 12. His arrest was captured on bystander video. Prosecutors say Porter was present for all but one of six stops on Gray’s 45-minute ride to the Western Division police station. Porter, 26, is accused of failing to summon medics when the injured prisoner asked for help. He also allegedly failed to secure the 25-year-old man properly in the back of the van.
Before resting its case, the state called several witnesses to the stand Tuesday, including Baltimore Police DNA analyst Thomas Hebert, who said that five of the suspected blood samples found in the police van tested positive for Gray’s blood.
It remains unclear exactly how Gray was injured. But Dr. Carol Allan, the assistant state medical examiner, testified on Monday that Gray likely received his neck injury between the van’s second and fourth stops.
Although there is conflicting testimony about when, witnesses say Gray complained at least once of being unable to breathe. He asked Porter for medical assistance when the officer checked on him at the fourth stop, according to Allan’s testimony and Porter’s interview with department investigators. Allan said Gray likely was injured when the van stopped suddenly.
The delay in getting Gray medical attention led Allan to classify Gray’s death as a homicide.
“If he had gotten prompt medical attention, it would not have been a homicide,” she stated, adding Gray likely would have survived if van driver Caesar Goodson had rushed him straight to a hospital when he told Porter “I can’t breathe.”
Over defense objections on Tuesday, the state called former police officer Dr. Michael Lyman, as an expert witness on police procedures. Lyman, who never worked in Baltimore, and who said he hadn’t transported a prisoner in 29 years, said, “The responsibility falls across all of those officers to ensure [prisoners’] safety,” and hypothetically, a prisoner in Gray’s condition at the fourth stop “needs to go to the hospital. It’s as simple as that.”
Gray died on April 19, a week after his arrest. Protests followed Gray’s death and erupted on April 27 — the afternoon of his funeral — in the worst rioting Baltimore had seen in half a century.
Jury selection began on November 30, and the state called its first witness two days later. The Porter case is expected to end by December 17. On Monday, one juror — an African-American woman — was dismissed because of a medical emergency and replaced by one of four alternates, a white man.