Baltimore (CNN)—Officer William Porter acted reasonably in not seat belting Freddie Gray in a police wagon and in waiting to call for medical assistance until he could see that Gray was injured, a former Baltimore Police Department commander testified Thursday.
Timothy Longo, who is now the police chief in Charlottesville, Virginia, said general orders — such as the one issued days before Gray’s death stating that prisoners should be secured in the back of police vans — are merely “guiding principles” and “are clearly administrative in purpose.” Such orders contain caveats providing for an officer’s discretion, even if they say they don’t, he said.
“Police officers make discretionary decisions every day,” he said. “I don’t think a policy would remove that discretionary judgment.”
Porter, 26, the first of six officers to face trial in Gray’s April death, has said that Gray was kicking the inside of the police van en route to the station, and he had tried to kick out the window of a patrol car during an arrest a few weeks earlier.
So, according to Longo, when Porter checked on Gray during a stop and helped him onto a bench, there was no real obligation to secure Gray because he had been combative.
“He had reason to believe that at some point in time there was some resistance,” Longo said. “I believe his actions were objectively reasonable under the circumstances he was presented with at the time.”
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