BALTIMORE (AP) — A police officer charged with manslaughter in the death of Freddie Gray took the stand Wednesday and began testifying in his own defense.
Officer William Porter, the first of six officers to go on trial in Gray’s death, also faces assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges. If convicted on all of the charges, the maximum penalty he faces is about 25 years.
Prosecutors have argued that Porter should be held partially responsible for Gray’s death because the officer didn’t buckle the man into a seat belt when he checked on him in the back of a transport wagon, and he failed to call for a medic when Gray indicated he needed medical attention.
Defense attorneys have suggested that the van driver was responsible for Gray’s safety and said Porter acted the way any reasonable officer would have. They also suggested that the officer may have thought Gray was faking an injury to avoid going to jail.
Gray was a 25-year-old black man who died a week after suffering a spinal injury while riding, handcuffed and shackled, in the back of a police transport van. Porter, who is also black, was present at five of the six stops the van made after officers arrested Gray when he ran away from them. Gray’s van ride lasted 45 minutes but covered only several city blocks.
The state rested its case Tuesday after calling 16 witnesses over five days.