Verdict Watch – The Death of Freddie Gray – William Porter Trial

freddie-gray-arrest-video.pngTwenty-five year old Freddie Gray was arrested April 12 after he ran from police in his West Baltimore neighborhood. His hands and feet were shackled. He was placed in the police van and not belted in. He suffered a spinal injury and died a week later. At Porter’s trial, medical experts for both sides said that Freddie’s injury was likened to one sustained when someone dives headfirst into a shallow pool of water.

The public has only heard bits and pieces of trial testimony because no cameras or electronic devices are allowed in the courtroom. Today, there is a bit more reported about the trial that we would have to have kept track to know.  For example, there were 20 witnesses and about 100 pieces of evidence. The jury saw the van that Freddie died in.

William PorterWilliam Porter is the first officer to stand trial. He has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

The jury of three black men, five black women, two white men and two white women now decide whether Porter is guilty or innocent. Judge Barry G. Williams told jurors they could stay as late as they would like each day to deliberate.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis canceled leave for officers through Friday. “The community has an expectation for us to be prepared for a variety of scenarios,” Davis said.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has urged residents to remain calm. “Whatever the verdict, we need everyone in our city to respect the judicial process,” Rawlings-Blake said. “We need everyone visiting our city to respect Baltimore.”

Our committed and precious Yahtzee took time to put the tweets of Kevin Rector in chronological order from today regarding closing arguments and jury instructions.

TWEETED REPORTS OF TODAY’S COURTROOM PROCEEDING

Judge Williams has begun giving instructions to jury. “You should not be swayed by sympathy, prejudice or public opinion,” he tells them.

He says they can change their opinion if convinced by fellow jurors in deliberations, but says “do not surrender your honest opinion.”

Williams reminds jurors burden of proof rests with state, and says, “You must apply the law as I describe it.”

Judge tells jury they have to consider whether Porter’s statements to police were voluntary; if not, they must “disregard” them.

For manslaughter, Porter must have acted in a “grossly negligent manner,” been aware of risk, departed from “reasonable officer” standard.

For 2nd degree assault, Porter must have willfully acted with gross negligence; doesn’t require that he actually touched Gray.

For misconduct in office Porter must have “corruptly failed” to do his duty as officer, but w evil motive, “not merely an error in judgment”

Bledsoe closing for prosecution. Argues legitimacy of Detective Teel’s notes from 1st phone convo w Porter.

You’ll recall Teel testified that Porter said Gray told him he couldn’t breathe at 4th stop. Porter at trial said Gray said that at 1st stop

“The only way Officer Porter shifts the blame to someone else is to say those words didn’t happen at Druid Hill,” Bledsoe says.

“Who had the motive to be deceitful? It’s not Detective Teel. It’s Officer Porter,” Bledsoe says.

Bledsoe also arguing Porter in statement described 5 times putting Gray on van bench “like an object.” Only at trial did he say Gray helped

Bledsoe grabs, talks quickly into her collar, mimicking officer making police radio call. “‘I need a medic.’ That’s all it would have taken”

Bledsoe: “This ‘jailitis’ is a bunch of crap.” Says Porter brought up medic 1st, so Gray’s “not the one who’s playing the jailitis card”

Bledsoe: Small % of detainees not accepted by Central Booking. By noting CB wouldn’t take Gray, Porter “knew the seriousness” of Gray’s inj

Bledsoe’s strategy is clearly to argue Porter has been lying in court about multiple aspects of Gray’s arrest to advantage himself.

“The only reasonable conclusion is that Officer Porter is not telling the truth,” Bledsoe said.

Of training and general orders, seat belting and calling medic, Bledsoe says Porter “knew what he was supposed to do.”

Really interesting bit of Bledsoe’s closing, re Porter’s shared responsibility with Off Goodson, the van driver.

Bledsoe says video of 1st two stops show other officers loading Gray in van, not Goodson. Obv not only driver had responsibility, she says

Then Bledsoe says Goodson 1st interacts w Gray at 3rd stop, when “something catastrophic” happens in van and pulls over at Mosher/Fremont

Prosecution’s experts only testified injury happened between 2nd & 4th stops. But Bledsoe implies in closing that it happened btw 2nd & 3rd

When Porter got in van to check on #FreddieGray at 4th stop, he took on additional responsibility for Gray’s well-being, Bledsoe said.

On failure to seat belt, Bledsoe says, “Every caretaker knows that it’s dangerous to travel in a vehicle without a seat belt on.”

And it would be especially clear there would be danger to not seat belt if person is handcuffed and shackled, can’t brace self, Bledsoe says.

On reasonable officer standard & defense arg no officers belt, Bledsoe says, “A behavior isn’t reasonable because everybody else does it.”

A standard that allows Porter not to belt just because *others* don’t belt is one that would just create *more risk* in system, Bledsoe says.

Prosecution using tape of Porter statement, witness videoes, but also tape of Porter from his testimony in this trial.

Bledsoe to jury: Easiest way to remember manslaughter is as combo of reckless endangerment, negligent assault and “disregard for human life”

“So let me tell you how Officer Porter disregards #FreddieGray’s life,” Bledsoe says, before going through actions van stop by van stop.

Bledsoe ended by focusing on Porter’s responsibilities (and power) as a police officer.

Bledsoe to jury: The state is asking you to hold Porter “responsible for the oath that he took, for his job, and for being a human being.”

BREAKING: Prosecution has ended its closing.

Murtha starts defense closing. Says state must prove not just factors of #FreddieGray‘s death, but that Porter was specifically responsible

Murtha says it is “sometimes hard to set aside our emotions,” but jury took an oath to do that.

Murtha stressing officer discretion, Porter’s assessment of Gray and his not thinking Gray was seriously injured.

Murtha said prosecutors want jury to believe rule for officers is “You say medic, I say when and where, and that’s just not how it works

Murtha says general orders are clear that they do not eliminate officer discretion.

Murtha going through all the little individual doubts the defense raised in the state’s case throughout the trial.

Murtha: Did Porter ever see the updated general order re seat belts? Why was there a delay from Gray’s injury to first inspection of van?

Murtha says prosecution “overlooked” things, because there is an”absence of evidence.” “The state is asking you to insert information.”

Murtha: “The state is attempting to attack the credibility of Officer Porter” but “external facts” show he’s telling the truth.

Murtha said prosecution “never had an ‘ah ha’ moment during cross examination” of Porter on stand because he explained all actions clearly.

“There’s no moment where Officer Porter says, ‘You got me,'” Murtha says. Porter has done nothing but make himself available.

Teel acknowledged making mistakes in notes on 1st phone call with Porter, Murtha says. Porter mentioned “can’t breathe” re 1st stop, not 4th.

Murtha: There is “literally no evidence” as to when in van Gray injured, but state just speculating and asking jury to “fill in the blanks.”

“It’s astonishing and it’s scary” Murtha says. “The state is asking you to make a judgment and decision based on speculation and conjecture”

Murtha going into extent of Gray’s injuries, says med examiner’s testimony was “speculative theorizing” as to when injury occurred.

Murtha describes intimacy of Porter & Gray in van, “inches away from one another;” says claim Gray said “I can’t breathe” is “distortion”

Murtha: Inches from Gray, Porter is “talking to him. He can tell that he’s breathing,” & there are no signs of serious medical distress.

Dr Carol Allan, the med examiner, offers belief injury happened before that stop, but isn’t specific because she has no proof, Murtha says

“Take your pick, as far as Dr Allan is concerned,” Murtha says. “Is it stop 2? Stop 3? Stop 4?”

Prosecution’s inability to show when Gray injured undermines attempt to show Porter’s actions actually caused death, Murtha says

Murtha going through testimony of witnesses 1 by 1. Brings up multiple other officers who testified or def Porter’s actions were reasonable.

Murtha says that’s important for legal def of crimes; says state “brings not 1 person” who testified to actions of avg reasonable officer.

“You’re making a legal decision,” Murtha tells jury. “Not a moral, not a philosophical decision.”

Defense brought bunch of Baltimore cops to testify to reasonableness of Porter’s actions, state brought 1 guy from Midwest, Murtha said.

Murtha: “They’re stretching, they’re reaching. They want you to be emotionally disturbed and upset” about Gray’s death but have no evidence.

In closing Murtha said whatever Schatzow adds on rebuttal “it doesn’t take away what is not present in their case. And that is the evidence”

Murtha has ended; brief recess before prosecution has one more chance to speak to jury on rebuttal.

Prosecution’s Rebuttal

Schatzow on rebuttal: Porter’s “callous indifference to human life” killed Gray, and now he’s lying about it.

Schatzow: Reasonable offc wouldve asked at 1st stop when Gray put on stomach in van “Why are we throwing him in there like a piece of meat?”

Schatzow on defense saying no “ah ha” moment from state cross  examination of Porter: “This isn’t a movie. We aren’t on television!”

Schatzow says Porter has lied on stand. “Every time that he is stuck” contradicting statement “he now comes up with some new explanation.”

Schatzow is more or less using rebuttal to bring up all the defense arguments in the case and openly scoff at them. Also to ? Porter cred

Schatzow on defense argument that van driver had responsibility for Gray, not Porter: “It’s almost laughable.”

Schatzow on defense argument Porter scared Gray could grab gun: Fear prevented seat belting but not getting all the way into van to lift?

Schatzow suggests Porter not remembering if Rice officer at 1st stop, saying didn’t ask Goodson why needed to check Gray at 4th stop, lies

Schatzow concluded. Williams calls break for lunch until 2:15 p.m. This afternoon, he will put Porter’s fate in jury’s hands.

Jurors asked to start tomorrow at 8:30. Williams said that’s fine; as soon as all 12 are in, they can start.

Jury also asked if jury room locked overnight. Williams says yes but cleaning crew allowed in.

 

 

 

 

Posted on 12/14/2015, in Cases, Cops Gone Wild and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. Excellent post … Now we wait!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. yahtzeebutterfly

    Kevin Rector, this trophy is for you for your outstanding reporting through your tweets:

    You gave a thorough report of both the prosecution’s and defense’s closing arguments and helped me understand the great task that the jurors have before them!

    (Here is the Baltimore Sun’s article from today that Kevin Rector had a share in reporting:

    “Closing arguments completed in Porter trial, jury in deliberations”
    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/freddie-gray/bs-md-porter-trial-closing-monday-20151214-story.html

    Liked by 3 people

  3. It is just too much. So tragic and un-necessary.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. yahtzeebutterfly

    WBAL-TV report:

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Iam so nervous about this. I pray it’s the right decision this time. Justice…

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Based on past law suits and injuries concerning these rough rides, how can they find Porter anything other than guilty.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Mindyme,
      If the attorneys did not raise that issue at trial, then the jurors cannot consider it. I really wish we could have watched the trial because on cross, Porter should have been asked if he’s a medical professional to judge whether or not Freddie was telling the truth about not being able to breathe.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. chuquestaquenumber1

    A few days ago a Maryland LEO was shot in the face with a .410 shotgun round by Tyler Temperman. He doesn’t end up in a police van with his spine severed.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. yahtzeebutterfly

    “The Latest: Freddie Gray jury hard at work, asking for items”

    http://www.newschannel10.com/story/30755489/the-latest-freddie-gray-jury-hard-at-work-asking-for-items

    Liked by 1 person

  9. yahtzeebutterfly

    Apparently the jurors are deadlocked, and the judge told them to go back.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. yahtzeebutterfly

    Liked by 1 person

  11. yahtzeebutterfly

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It’s being reported that the jury is deadlocked. The judge sent the jury back to deliberate.

    Deliberations have not been that long, which questions whether some jurors took a position during trial that they will not change.

    http://www.wusa9.com/story/news/local/maryland/2015/12/15/jury-deliberations-continue-first-freddie-gray-case/77346140/

    Liked by 2 people

    • also Xena i think you are 100% correct there was at least one juror that would NOT convict no matter what facts were shown.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hey Bill. It is amazing that in less than 24 hours of deliberations, the jury would say it is deadlocked. Yeah — I agree. At least one juror went into deliberations with their mind already made up that they were not going to convict on any charges regardless of the facts.

        Liked by 3 people

  13. i hate posting this but think the prosecution made a huge mistake in trying to pinpoint when Gray was injured…..there is no question in my mind he was first injured during the take down and handcuffing, one officer broke his neck using his full weight and knee on it, the spinal cord hadnt been damaged yet but the bone was broken and the protection of his neck had been compromised, then each time they moved him they started a tear in the spinal cord and made it worse each time they handled him……the FACT he was denied care 6 times caused his death and EVERY officer involved shares the guilt of denying that care.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Bill, you make an excellent point. I too have considered Freddie’s injury to have been progressive. In my opinion, the prosecution formed that strategy in order to establish the separate charges against each of the 6 officers.

      Liked by 2 people

    • I agree, that was the very best I’ve heard it explained. And it makes total sense. Far more sense when you hear witnesses to the ‘take down’ claim cops had him twisted up like a pretzel. And that he was screaming before ever stepping foot in the van. But I haven’t seen anyone explain the sequence of events in totality, from chase to the van. I need to see that.

      Like

      • they base their claim it happened in the van on the extent of the injury as if it had to happen all at once and indeed the force to make that happen fast would be massive, the “problem” with that is ONE moment would have requires his head to hit something VERY hard so hard that would likely crush his skull and they found no such injury on his head………it is as if they never even considered a progressive injury…….and those doing the autopsy have medical degrees, yet clearly cant think as well as this mere layman………

        Liked by 1 person

        • I can’t understand this slack ass attitude from the prosecutions! Maybe it’s all the CSI TV that makes me think of the details, but the defense sure gets into their details. Even ones they have to make up.

          Liked by 1 person

  14. yahtzeebutterfly

    I think one of the things that the jury is having trouble with is this instruction that the judge gave yesterday that Kevin Rector tweeted:

    For misconduct in office Porter must have “corruptly failed” to do his duty as officer, but w evil motive, “not merely an error in judgment”

    I base my thinking on the following tweet from yesterday where the jury asks for definitions:

    https://twitter.com/RectorSun/status/676524878485434368

    Liked by 1 person

    • yahtzeebutterfly

      Correction to the above:

      My words “I base my thinking on the following tweet from yesterday where the jury asks for definitions:” should not have been in italics.

      Liked by 2 people

  15. yahtzeebutterfly

    LOL ——>

    Liked by 1 person

  16. yahtzeebutterfly

    Liked by 1 person

  17. yahtzeebutterfly

    Excerpt from Eric Cockrell’s poem Justice and Equality

    justice and equality…
    two very human dreams,
    and the hope that allows us
    to bring children into the world!
    cannot be defined by color,
    nationality, religion, or sex…
    cannot be regulated by class,
    cannot be different for those
    who have and those who have not…

    cannot allow poverty,
    cannot allow hunger,
    cannot allow oppression…
    to continue!

    must be worked for…
    everyone has a part,
    everyone has a responsibility.

    http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/justice-and-equality/

    Liked by 2 people

  18. yahtzeebutterfly

    “Baltimore Jury In William Porter Trial Deadlocked | MSNBC”

    Like

  19. yahtzeebutterfly

    Like

  20. ANNOUNCEMENT

    The jury is hung on all counts. The judge has declared a mistrial. CNN is reporting that the prosecution and defense attorneys will be in court tomorrow to set a new trial date.

    It’s almost 3 p.m. CST and I am currently watching CNN who is reporting it.

    Like

  21. yahtzeebutterfly

    “The Ballad of Freddie Gray”


    “Based on poem by Gene Tyburn regarding the police abuse and subsequent murder of Freddie Gray. Music and lyrical arrangement by Rick Worth.”

    Liked by 2 people

  22. yahtzeebutterfly

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/freddie-gray/bs-md-ci-new-trial-dates-freddie-gray-20160315-story.html

    Excerpt:

    The trials of the six Baltimore Police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray are poised to resume in May, following the one-year anniversary of the 25-year-old’s death from injuries sustained in police custody.

    Officer Edward Nero, one of the officers involved in Gray’s initial arrest, will be tried May 10, followed on June 6 by Officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the van in which prosecutors say Gray suffered the injuries that proved fatal.

    The cases have been on hold in recent months, after Officer William Porter’s attorneys and prosecutors filed appeals to the higher courts challenging rulings made by Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams.

    The Court of Appeals ruled on those challenges on March 8, siding with prosecutors and ordering that Porter must testify against his fellow officers if prosecutors call him as a witness. Prosecutors are granting Porter limited immunity for his testimony.

    The new schedule calls for Lt. Brian Rice to be tried on July 5, Officer Garrett Miller on July 27, Porter to be retried on Sept. 6, and Sgt. Alicia White on Oct. 13.

    Like

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