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 is a Massachusetts lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 3rd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense website (autographed copies available) and Amazon.com (paperback and Kindle), and many other re-sellers. Andrew just launched his latest product, the LOSD Instructor Program, designed for gun safety, marksmanship and tactical strategy instructors. Be an elite member of the self defense community, understanding your state's self defense laws to a depth even lawyers rarely achieve. Check it out here.   Andrew also gives live, in-person, ~5 hour-long state-specific Law of Self Defense Seminars all over the country. Click here to find a live seminar covering your state's self-defense laws.   Andrew also produces many 4-5 hour online, on-demand state-specific Law of Self Defense training courses. These online classes are enriched versions of the live, in-person state-specific Law of Self Defense Class Andrew gives all around the country. Click here to find an online course for your state. These online classes are priced at $249/HOUSEHOLD. You can learn more details and view the first section of the training class for free (about 30 minutes worth of self-defense law training) by clicking here.

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