LI: Freddie Gray Trial Day 2: Prosecution’s Case Looks Weak

As we emerge from day two of the Freddie Gray trial of Police Officer William Porter, we have yet to see a compelling narrative of guilt from the prosecution, particularly on the more serious charges brought against Porter.There is no live remote access to the court room, so the information below is largely obtained from the reporting of the Baltimore Sun newspaper:

Porter’s charges stem from his decisions not to seat-belt Gray in the back of the van despite his being handcuffed with shackles on his legs, or failing to provide him medical assistance when he requested it, prosecutors have said. Porter was not the van’s driver, but responded to assist other officers with Gray at multiple stops on the van’s route.

Porter did not personally assist in Gray’s arrest, nor was Porter responsible for the operation of the police van (that duty fell to the driver of that van Officer Goodson). Interestingly, jurors had the opportunity to actually inspect that police van today, when it was towed into the courthouse. Curiously, the Baltimore Sun reports that while the jurors were allowed to closely inspect the van, the vehicle itself was not entered into evidence.

For 160 years (not a typo) the Baltimore Police Department left to the discretion of the officers on the scene whether to belt a suspect into a van (whether horse-drawn or motorized).  In fact, while seatbelt use in passenger cars is now de rigueur, there are perfectly valid and rational reasons for not belting in a prisoner in a police van.  In particular, that belting the prisoner in can lead to greater, not lesser, injuries in the event of a crash. (See my earlier post on this issue:  Freddie Gray Case: Autopsy report further undermines prosecution.)

Then, a mere week prior to Gray’s arrest a new policy was promulgated by the Baltimore Police Department that all prisoners in vans were to be belted in. The prosecution in this trial has argued that Porter was “trained” in this policy, but it appears that “trained” in this context merely means that Porter was sent a single group email, one of scores officers receive from the department each day, and that was in no way particular noteworthy.

To read the whole thing, click over to Legal Insurrection.

About the Author

Andrew Branca
Andrew F. Branca, Esq. is currently in his third decade of practicing law, and is an internationally-recognized expert on the law of self-defense of the United States. Andrew is a Guest Lecturer at the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy, a former Guest Instructor at the Sig Sauer Academy, an NRA Life-Benefactor Member, and an NRA Certified Instructor. He also teaches lawyers how to argue self-defense cases as a certified instructor with the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) system in numerous states around the country. Andrew is also a host on the Outdoor Channel’s TV show “The Best Defense” and contributor to the National Review Online. Andrew has been quoted as a SME (subject-matter expert) on use-of-force law by the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, and many other mainstream media, including nationally syndicated broadcast media. Recently, Andrew won the UC Berkeley Law School debate on “Stand-Your-Ground,” and spoke at the NRA Annual Meeting Law Symposium on self-defense law. He is also a founding member of USCCA’s Legal Advisory Board. In addition to being a lawyer, Andrew is also a competitive handgun shooter, an IDPA Charter/Life member (IDPA #13), and a Master-class competitor in multiple IDPA divisions.

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