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William Porter, the first officer to go to trial for the death of Freddie Gray, took the stand in his own defense Wednesday.

Porter testified he wasn’t aware he undermined any police practices when he failed to seek medical attention for Gray, who injured his spinal cord while being transported in a Baltimore Police van after his arrest, The New York Times reports. Explaining the incident from his perspective, Porter stated Gray didn’t have any visible injuries, despite his pleas for help. When asked why he didn’t strap the 25-year-old into the police van, the 26-year-old explained he’s never strapped in a suspect.

An email was again sent out to the officers the day of Gray’s arrest enacting the seatbelt rule.

Porter was calm and confident during his testimony, reiterating that he was just as traumatized as Gray. Prosecutor Michael Schatzow questioned Porter about inconsistencies in his answers to investigators at the time. While Porter said he never belted suspects, the officer also previously said he didn’t strap Gray in because his gun would have been too close to the suspect.

The New York Times reports:

At one point, Mr. Schatzow suggested that Officer Porter had tried to protect his fellow officers and that the Baltimore Police Department had a “stop snitching” culture.

“Absolutely not,” Officer Porter said sharply. “I’m actually offended that you would say something like that.”

From there, the defense stuck to the notion that Gray’s death was indeed an accident, not a homicide. They also stressed that Porter didn’t know he had to strap suspects into the van, therefore, he didn’t intend to break police practices.

Porter said he and Gray weren’t friends, but they knew of each other due to Gray’s previous run-ins with police. Porter grew up in Baltimore, close to Gray, and said the victim was friendly when he wasn’t allegedly selling drugs. On April 12, the day Gray was arrested, Porter admitted he overheard a man, who he now knows to be Gray, saying, “I can’t breathe; I need an asthma inhaler.” But he said Gray never told him that directly.

Critics believe Porter’s testimony could convince the jury that he acted properly in the incident, earning him a possible not guilty verdict. Porter previously pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office.

SOURCE: The New York Times | VIDEO CREDIT: Inform


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