The defense has rested in one of six trials over the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore teen who died in police custody earlier this year. William Porter was one of the officers charged with his death, and his attorneys put their final witness, Porter's mother Helena Porter, on the stand Friday.
Helena Porter stated that her son, "likes to keep the peace. He's the peacemaker." Other defense witnesses described Porter in the same manner, calling him "honest" and "kind."
A key testimony for the defense was Baltimore police chief Justin Reynolds, who stated that the transporting officer is the one responsible for those taken into custody, and Porter was not the transporting officer for Gray. Reynolds, who helped draft police policy for the Baltimore police department, assured the jury that the policies he helped put in place are to be used with discretion and that, "you have to use common sense. It prevails over everything else."
Porter has noted that Gray was restless inside the police van, kicking it en route to the police station. In a separate arrest just a few weeks prior to his death, Gray also attempted to kick out the window of a patrol car. Porter has pleaded not guilty to a range of charges, including involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment.
While the prosecution claims that the van refused to stop when Gray needed medical attention, Porter spoke up during his Wednesday testimony. He stated that out of the 150 prisoners he's placed in a police van, none were secured with a seatbelt out of safety concerns for the officers. "It's the responsibility of the wagon driver to get the prisoner from point A to point B," he told the jury, backing up Reynolds's point.
And though an autopsy revealed that Gray's spine was "functionally severed" and the death ruled a homicide, Porter also stated that Gray did not seek a transport to the hospital until the fourth out of six stops in the police van, and that Porter told this to the van's driver. He didn't call a medic, however, because Gray did not appear injured or let him know what was wrong.
The trial resumes Monday morning for closing arguments.
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