A defiant William G. Porter took the witness stand Wednesday afternoon, squaring off with a prosecutor intent on proving that he allowed Freddie Gray to die.
Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow zeroed in on differences between Porter’s testimony in his manslaughter trial and a statement the young Baltimore police officer gave to internal investigators just days after Gray suffered a fatal neck injury in the back of a police transport van in April.
“You did not protect Freddie Gray’s life, did you?” Schatzow said.
“Untrue,” Porter said.
Porter’s testimony came on the first day of his defense team’s presentation, which also included testimony from a well-known forensic expert who contradicted the findings of the state medical examiner’s autopsy, and another police officer who took part in Gray’s arrest and was granted immunity by the state.
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Porter calmly responded to questions from his attorney, Gary Proctor, but bristled at times under cross-examination by Schatzow.
He said that taking the stand allowed him to elaborate on what he said in his April statement. When he gave his initial statement, he said, he thought he was just a witness — not a suspect.
“I didn’t know I needed to defend myself,” he said.
Porter, 26, has pleaded not guilty to charges of manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment in connection with Gray’s death. Prosecutors allege he “criminally neglected his duty” by failing to secure Gray with a seat belt in a police transport van on April 12 and not calling for medical assistance when Gray requested it.
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