Defense attorneys for Officer William Porter have been trying to show how other officers might have had responsibility for protecting Freddie Gray while he was in custody -- but even if the jury accepts that it doesn't make it more likely that the other officers will be found guilty.
"Because they're all being tried separately it is like a do over or a reset," said University of Baltimore law professor Amy Dillard. "Each individual defendant could have a theory of innocence that is inconsistent with another defendant's theory of innocence."
Porter's lawyers have elicited testimony from a former academy instructor indicating that the driver of the van, Caesar R. Goodson Jr., would have had primary responsibility for Gray. And Friday, the lead investigator on the case acknowledged that Porter told a superior officer, Sgt. Alicia White, that Gray needed medical attention.
The prosecution case rests in large part on the idea that Porter and the other officers criminally violated police department rules by failing use a seat belt to restrain Gray and by not calling for a medic for him. But because the case relies on inaction, prosecutors can't allege that the six officers conspired with one another or were accomplices to each other, Dillard said.
"Each person is responsible for his or her own conduct," she said. But the prosecutors could seek to show that the officers had knowledge of what their colleagues were doing -- via police radios, for example -- and so should have acted appropriately in the context.
Porter is the first officer to go on trial. He has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and other charges. All the other officers maintain their innocence. -- Ian Duncan