- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2015

A Baltimore judge has scheduled a hearing Tuesday to determine in which order six police officers will face trial in connection with the death of a 25-year-old black man grievously injured in police custody.

City prosecutors previously have said they would like to try one officer, William Porter, before the others because they hope to call him as a witness in the other trials, which are scheduled to begin Oct. 13.

Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow called Officer Porter “a necessary and material witness” in the cases against Officer Caesar Goodson and Sgt. Alicia White in a letter to Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams last week.

Officer Porter, Officer Goodson and Sgt. White face charges of manslaughter, misconduct in office, assault and reckless endangerment in the death of Freddie Gray in April.

Gray died after being fatally injured while handcuffed inside the back of a police van, and the six officers are accused of violating policy by failing to strap him into the van with a seat belt and later ignoring his repeated pleas for medical attention. His death touched off days of protests, rioting and looting in Baltimore in April.

According to a statement of charges, Officer Goodson was the driver of the van. Officer Porter helped Officer Goodson check on Gray’s welfare midway through his transport to a police booking station after two other officers had arrested Gray after he had run from officers on bicycle patrol.

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The Baltimore Sun reported Saturday that, according to statements that the officers provided during a departmental probe of the incident, Officer Porter asked Gray whether he needed a medic and then told the van’s driver that Central Booking wouldn’t accept Gray because of his injuries. Officer Porter’s statements also indicate that “he wasn’t sure if Gray was in distress, or trying to convince officers to take him to the hospital instead of jail,” the Sun reported.

A statement of charges against the officers indicates that Sgt. White “spoke to the back of Mr. Gray’s head” but did nothing further to assess his condition.

In addition to the manslaughter and misconduct counts, Officer Goodson is charged with “depraved-heart” murder.

Moreover, Lt. Brian Rice is charged with involuntary manslaughter, and Officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero face charges of second-degree assault and misconduct in office in connection with Gray’s death.

Attorneys representing the six officers failed to convince a judge earlier this month that either Baltimore’s $6.4 million settlement with Gray’s family, or the riots that followed his death, were reason to move the upcoming criminal trials outside the city.

Defense attorneys indicated in a filing that some defendants might seek trial postponements because of “discovery issues” regarding evidence and witnesses. Judge Williams said in a memo they would get a chance to argue for postponements.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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