BALTIMORE (AP) — William Porter’s defense has presented him as a reasonable officer who did nothing wrong the day Freddie Gray was arrested, while prosecutors paint him as an indifferent cop who denied Gray medical care in the police wagon where he suffered a spinal injury that killed him.
Jurors will hear closing arguments Monday, then begin deliberating on which version they think is true.
Meanwhile, the city of Baltimore, still on edge after riots broke out in April on the day of Gray’s funeral, braces for the verdict.
Jurors have heard eight days of testimony. Porter is charged with manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
Prosecutors say Porter is partially responsible for the death because he didn’t call for an ambulance when Gray indicated he needed medical aid and because he ignored a departmental policy requiring officers to buckle prisoners in seat belts.
Porter told jurors he didn’t call a medic because Gray didn’t show signs of injury, pain or distress and said only “yes” when Porter offered to take him to the hospital. Porter and other witnesses testified that it was the responsibility of the wagon driver, Caesar Goodson, to buckle Gray into the seat belt. Goodson faces the most serious charge: second-degree “depraved-heart” murder.
Porter is the first of six officers to go to trial for charges stemming from Gray’s injury and death, and it likely will set the tone for the others and for the city’s healing. Gray’s death prompted protests and rioting in Baltimore, and his name became a rallying cry in the national conversation about the fractured relationship between the police and the public, particularly poor black men, in America’s cities.
As the verdict looms in the most high-stakes and high-profile case in the city’s recent history, Baltimore officials are taking pre-emptive measures.
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.”
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