The defense team for Officer William G. Porter rested its case Friday in his manslaughter trial in the death of Freddie Gray, and put Porter's mother on the stand as their last witness.
- Helena Porter testified that her son, 26, is "a nice guy" who is usually "the peacemaker in whatever situation" he finds himself in.
- Renea Somerville, an older woman who called Porter "Little Bill," said she considers him "like a grandson." Somerville, a Howard County Department of Corrections employee, said Porter is "very honest" and "an outstanding member of the community."
- Another friend, Devon Scott, said Porter — who he called "William" — was one of his best friends and an "upstanding gentleman" called Porter, who he referred to as "William," as one of his best friends, and said Porter is an "upstanding gentleman" and a "peaceful person."
- Angela Gibson, another friend and a first-grade teacher, called Porter "Will" and said people like him are "very hard to come by." Porter, she said, is always "very truthful and honest" and "very peaceful."
- On cross examination, Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledsoe asked all of the character witnesses, including Porter's mother, whether they had ever gone to work with him. They all said they had not.
- The defense also called Capt. Justin Reynolds of the Baltimore Police Department to the stand Friday as an expert in police policies. He echoed testimony from multiple defense witnesses who took the stand on Thursday when he said that the van driver — not Porter — had ultimate responsibility for Gray.
- Reynolds also said that by helping Gray off the floor of the van at its fourth stop and asking him what was wrong, Porter went "beyond what many other officers would have done."
- Judge Barry Williams told jurors they were dismissed until Monday morning, though he and the attorneys in the case would return to the courtroom Friday afternoon for legal discussions in the case.
- The proceedings Friday afternoon could include another motion by the defense for the case to be dismissed on its merits, though Williams has declined that request before. There could also be discussion of potential rebuttal witnesses prior to closing arguments.
- Closing arguments — when attorneys for both sides sum up their cases before the jury — could begin Monday, with jury deliberations after that. It is unclear how long those deliberations will last or when a verdict may be reached, though Williams has previously said that the trial would be concluded by Thursday.
Officer Porter's mother testifies
Helena Porter, his mother, took the stand and said her son was "the peacemaker in whatever situation that goes down," and "a nice guy."
"He gets along well with the community and all the neighbors," she said.
Defense calls character witnesses
Testimony resumed in the trial of Officer William G. Porter in the death of Freddie Gray on Friday morning with his defense calling three people who know Porter well to testify to his character.
Renea Somerville, an older woman who called Porter "Little Bill," said she considers him "like a grandson." Somerville, a Howard County Department of Corrections employee, said Porter is "very honest" and "an outstanding member of the community."
Another friend, Devon Scott, called Porter, who he referred to as "William," as one of his best friends, and said Porter is an "upstanding gentleman" and a "peaceful person."
The defense also called a third friend, a first-grade teacher, who called Porter "Will" and said people like him are "very hard to come by." Porter, she said, is always "very truthful and honest" and "very peaceful."
After the three character witnesses, the defense called Capt. Justin Reynolds of the Baltimore Police Department to the stand as an expert in police policies. Reynolds echoed testimony from multiple defense witnesses who took the stand on Thursday, saying that the van driver had ultimate responsibility for Gray.
Reynolds also said that by helping Gray off the floor of the van at the fourth stop and asking him what was wrong, Porter went "beyond what many other officers would have done."
At the fifth stop, Porter did the right thing by telling Sgt. Alicia White, his supervisor, that Gray had requested to go to the hospital.
"An officer expects that when they tell a supervisor something, the supervisor is going to act upon that," Reynolds said.
Reynolds said he has sat on departmental trial boards that assess officer violations of general orders, to recommend internal administrative punishment if necessary. It is understood within the department that officers have the right to use discretion when working on the street, and sometimes have to break with general orders to do their jobs.
"You have to use common sense," he said. "It prevails over everything else."
Baltimore grand jury returned indictments against six Baltimore officers charged in the April death of Freddie Gray after the charges were originally announced by the office of State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby The following are the charges brought by the grand jury. In some cases, they are different compared to the charges originally sought by Mosby, as noted. Also shown are the maximum sentences the charges carry.
William G. Porter
Manslaughter (up to 10 years), second-degree assault (up to 10 years), and misconduct in office (no term listed). Grand jury added charge: reckless endangerment (up to five years)
-- Witness Timothy Longo, who spent more than 18 years with the Baltimore Police Department and is now police chief in Charlottesville, Va., told jurors that Porter’s actions on the day Gray was arrested were reasonable.
-- Longo also said the van driver, Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., was ultimately responsible for Gray’s care. He said Goodson and the supervisor, Sgt. Alicia D. White — not Porter — had the responsibility to take further action.
-- City Police Officer Mark Gladhill testified Thursday he saw Freddie Gray inside the police transport van kneeling and supporting his weight -- after the point at which the state has alleged Gray had suffered a severe injury and needed urgent care. Some witnesses have testified that Gray was thrashing around inside the van. Gladhill said he did not recall the van shaking once Gray was put inside.
-- Also Thursday, Dr. Matthew Ammerman, a neurosurgeon, testified that Gray’s injury was “catastrophic” and would have immediately caused him to lose the ability to breathe. Ammerman said the injury would have “immediately rendered him paralyzed, stopped him from breathing and unfortunately ended his life.”
-- Ammerman's testimony counters Dr. Morris Marc Soriano, a neurosurgeon called by prosecutors, who previously testified that Gray had suffered a severe injury but would have been able to continue breathing for a time by using “accessory” muscles, and that he was trying to communicate his injury to Porter.