Porter’s Defense Rests

Dec 11, 2015

Credit P. Kenneth Burns / WYPR

The defense rested its case Friday in the trial of the first of six Baltimore police officers charged in the April death of Freddie Gray.

Attorneys for Officer William Porter called 12 witnesses over three days, including his mother and three other character witnesses. Helena Porter, among the last of the witnesses, said her son was “the peacemaker in any situation that goes down.”

The defense also called Baltimore police Captain Justin Reynolds who said Porter did nothing wrong and even went above and beyond his responsibilities as an assisting officer on the day that Freddie Gray's neck was broken in the back of a transport wagon.

Reynolds, testifying as an expert witness in police training and policies, noted that Porter assisted Gray from the wagon floor to the bench, asked him if he needed medical help and suggested that wagon driver Caesar Goodson take him to the hospital. He said Porter's actions "go beyond what many officers would have done."

Porter is charged with manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges stemming from Gray's death on April 19, a week after he was injured in the transport wagon. Prosecutors say Porter was criminally negligent for ignoring departmental policy requiring officers to seat belt prisoners, and for failing to call a medic immediately after Gray indicated he needed aid.

The defense argued that Porter did everything he could to help Gray and did his job as he was trained.

Former city prosecutor Warren Alperstein, who watched the proceedings, said the defense did “an effective job.”

“The issues as we all have come to learn are whether or not there was a mandatory seatbelt in effect and, too, did Officer Porter neglect his duty,” Alperstein said.  “Did he act outside of what a reasonable officer would do in securing immediate medical treatment for Freddie Gray when Freddie Gray asked for it?”

Closing arguments are scheduled for Monday morning.

Associated Press contributed to this story.