xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Defense asks court to block discussion of Freddie Gray's arrest in first officer's trial

Defense attorneys for Officer William Porter, the first Baltimore cop scheduled to be tried in the death of Freddie Gray, have asked the court to block prosecutors from discussing the circumstances surrounding Gray's arrest by other officers.

Because Porter was not involved in Gray's arrest and the state does not contend that he was, the attorneys wrote in their latest filing in the case, Judge Barry Williams should "order the preclusion of any and all reference to or argument about Freddie Gray's initial detention not being supported by reasonable suspicion, Mr. Gray's arrest not being supported by probable cause, or Mr. Gray's arrest not being otherwise legally justified."

Advertisement

Porter's attorneys also filed a separate motion asking Williams to block prosecutors from mentioning "any and all testimony and evidence concerning information not personally known" by Porter at the time of his interactions with Gray, which came at later points along Gray's transport in a police van, where prosecutors say he suffered a severe and ultimately fatal spinal cord injury.

The filings represent the latest shift in what had been a unified defense among all six officers charged in Gray's arrest and death toward individual defenses suited to each officer and the portions of Gray's arrest and transport in which they were involved.

Advertisement
Advertisement

The six officers have been granted separate trials — Porter's is scheduled to begin Nov. 30 — in part because of questions around the admissibility of evidence against one in the trial of another.

Porter's attorneys say their new motions should be granted by Williams "under the same reasoning as the decision to sever the trials," and because the prosecution has not filed any conspiracy charges in the case that would suggest the officers were acting in concert with one another.

Gray, 25, was arrested and injured on April 12, while in police custody. His death a week later sparked protests against police brutality across the city, and his funeral April 27 was followed by rioting, looting and arson in the city.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges against the six officers on May 1, ranging from second-degree murder to misconduct in office. All have pleaded not guilty, and been released on bail.

Advertisement

Porter is charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.

In announcing the charges, Mosby outlined the involvement of each of the six officers with some specificity. She first mentioned Porter becoming involved when he responded to a location where the van's driver, Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr., had stopped and radioed for support — after having left the location in West Baltimore where Gray was arrested.

However, much attention in the case has been placed on Gray's initial arrest, and whether the officers who arrested him had probable cause to do so.

While prosecutors have argued that a knife found on Gray was legal and his arrest was illegal, defense attorneys have said the knife was illegal and that officers had every right to chase Gray after he ran from them in a high crime area known for drug dealing.

Porter's attorneys do not argue on the merits of either argument, but instead seek to have the discussion avoided entirely in his trial.

They wrote that prosecutors may seek to discuss the arrest in an effort to show Porter did not act as a reasonable officer would have in the circumstances he found himself in, misleading the jury and adding distractions to the trial that are not legally necessary for them to assess Porter's guilt or innocence on the charges he faces.

"Because Defendant Officer Porter is not charged with any crime related to the legality of Mr. Gray's detention or arrest, evidence, testimony, and argument directed towards the legality of the arrest would not be relevant to the crimes for which Defendant Officer Porter stands accused," they wrote.

Williams has ordered prosecutors and defense attorneys not to discuss the case.

twitter.com/rectorsun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement