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  December 9, 2015

Accused Officer Takes Stand for First Time in Freddie Gray Case

University of Maryland law professor Doug Colbert discusses the latest developments in the trial
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JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I'm Jaisal Noor in front of Courthouse East in Baltimore, Maryland.

Today was the first day of the defense's case in the trial of William Porter, and William Porter himself, the first of six officers on trial for the death of Freddie Gray, took the stand in his own defense. We caught up to legal expert and University of Maryland law professor Doug Colbert and asked him about these developments.

How well did he do undermining the prosecution's main claim that he should have provided medical care, and that he was required to seatbelt him in? He said he had never seatbelted in any of 150 passengers he had arrested and put in a wagon.

COLBERT: I mean, ultimately the prosecution must prove that Officer Porter did not take the actions that a reasonable officer would have done under the circumstances. He's going to be challenged a great deal with regard to his testimony today and the statements he previously made.

NOOR: And his characterizations of Freddie Gray and Gilmor Homes, as well. Do you think that's key, in building sympathy for him as a police officer? He said he knew Freddie Gray. Whenever Freddie Gray wasn't dirty he would come and talk to him. He said he wanted to clean up Gilmor Homes. He didn't like the litter there. He thought it was--he said it was filthy.

COLBERT: You know, what's wonderful about our jury system is that jurors are able to separate the irrelevant from the relevant. They're going to have to reconcile areas of testimony here, and I have a great deal of confidence that jurors will be able to do that in this case.

NOOR: And the other medical witness, the other witness, the first defense witness. How would you--what impact do you think they had, the medical examiner, Vincent Di Maio. What kind of impact could they have had on undermining the prosecution's case?

COLBERT: Well, the expert witness, Dr. Di Maio, relied on a statement that is contrary to what Officer Porter told the investigating officers. That's going to be a big deal for the jury to evaluate. And of course, the jury has a great deal of information here to weigh indicating that this was not an accident.


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