Jury hears Police Officer William Porter’s statement
Today is day three (excluding two days of jury selection) of the trial of Baltimore Police Officer William Porter, charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment following the in-custody injury and later death of community drug dealer Freddie Gray.
As part of the day’s proceedings the jury heard a video recorded statement given by Officer Porter to investigators only 5 days after Gray’s injury. Unfortunately, given the primitive nature of Baltimore’s judicial system that actual recorded statement is not accessible to the public for independent assessment. We must therefore rely on “journalism” to inform us.
The Baltimore Sun reports today that:
Baltimore Police Officer William G. Porter told investigators that he saw no reason to call a medic for Freddie Gray, but was poised to take him to a hospital for treatment.
Porter said he knew Gray from prior interactions and that he had a reputation for being difficult to arrest. He said Gray seemed lethargic, but responded to questions and did not articulate a specific medical problem.
“I said, ‘What’s your deal, what’s wrong with you. .. He doesn’t say anything, just ‘help,'” Porter told the investigators. Later, he said, “He doesn’t ask to go to the hospital … I offer, he says yes.”
Yesterday, according to CNN, Police Instructor Alice Carson Johnson had testified that “If you recognize someone needs medical assistance, always call 911 or EMS. A police officer is provided with the ability through appropriate training to make a determination if someone is in a medical emergency.”
Upon cross-examination, however, she conceded that someone like Freddie Gray who is verbally complaining that they could not breath, and who was therefore necessarily speaking, most certainly must also be breathing.
Also from yesterday’s testimony was raised the issue of whether Porter had ever actually been substantively informed of the new seatbelt requirement, after roughly 160 years of the department having no no such seatbelt requirement.
The head of IT for the Baltimore Police Department, Andrew Jaffee, testified that an email had been sent to all department personnel about the seatbelt rule just days prior to the Gray injury. He could not, however, testify as to whether Porter had actually received or seen the email notification. He also testified that the department’s computers were slow and had problems.
In yet another indication of the total disconnect between the theoretical training and protocols of the Baltimore Police Department and what officers actually have to deal with on the city’s streets:
Police training instructors have testified that it is department policy to call for a medic for anyone who appears injured or asks to be taken to a hospital. Porter told investigators, however, that arrestees regularly feigned injury to avoid going to jail, and that medics routinely wouldn’t respond when requested unless an “exigent” situation was apparent.
“The medic won’t take a prisoner if we already have a transport vehicle,” Porter told investigators. “You transport them in the wagon.”
Porter’s video statement was introduced into evidence through the testimony of Detective Syreeta Teel, the lead investigator in Gray’s death. As one reflection of the ludicrous nature of these criminal charges against Porter and other officers, the Baltimore Sun reports that Teel testified “that she considered Porter a witness, not a suspect, and did not follow protocols for interviewing a suspect for that reason.”
I expect that whether Gray was seat belted into the van came up exactly zero times in the course of Detective Teel’s interview of Officer Porter.
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