Legal expert Doug Colbert explains how a key witness in the fifth day of the trial of officer William Porter may have undermined the prosecution’s case
TITLE CARD: On Day 5 of the Freddie Gray case, jurors watched Officer William Porter’s April 17th statement to police investigators. They also heard from a key prosecution witness: investigating officer Detective Syreeta Teel. We asked legal expert Doug Colbert for his response. JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: Did the key prosecution witness undermine their own case today? DOUG COLBERT: Well, I think we understand why the defense indicated that Officer Porter will be testifying. Certainly when someone gives a full statement, as Officer Porter did, he probably finds a need to clarify certain parts of it. NOOR: And–. [Inaud.] COLBERT: Well, I think–you know, I think the, the prosecution’s direct examination of Detective Teel was very powerful, because it gave us Officer Porter’s exact words and provided a lot more understanding about whether the defendant had a duty to do more than what he did. I think the defense took some of the sting out of the prosecution’s case, but I think you’re still left with some very strong testimony, evidence on its own. I mean, we always have to keep in mind, this is day three of a trial that will continue for several more days at least. The case is moving along. We’ve already heard now that, something about the medical examiner, the autopsy, Dr. Allan. So we’re getting more of a preview of what’s going to come next. REPORTER: How much of an impact did this tape, showing that tape to the jurors this morning, have? COLBERT: Well, that remains to be seen, doesn’t it. I mean, we can make our own judgments looking at it ourselves, but we’re not the sworn jurors. REPORTER: What did you see as being significant in that tape today? COLBERT: Well, there was a lot significant. And once we start hearing the officer’s own words and get a sense of the questions that were asked, we’ll get a sense of whether it was a fair interrogation, whether Officer Porter came forward and spoke voluntarily. But most importantly we’re still left with information that indicates that Officer Porter made certain decisions after he indicated that medical attention was needed. Now, why Officer Porter did not pursue the request remains to be heard. REPORTER: He said that he didn’t get any specifics, he just kept asking for the medic. He didn’t get any specifics from Freddie Gray. COLBERT: And he interrogated the second detective who was asking questions, tried to ask, well, was he so lethargic? What was his condition? Did he seem injured at the time? So if somebody was suffering from the consequences of injury, that might explain his silence. I think you do have to go a little bit further than simply taking a nonresponse as an indication that all’s well. REPORTER: So you think the tape hurt him. COLBERT: Oh, I think the tape helps the prosecution’s case considerably. But keep in mind, we’re going to be hearing from Officer Porter. So Officer Porter will no doubt explain more to us about what led him to take the actions that he did. NOOR: In cross examination, Teel was asked, as soon as Porter determined Gray needed help, was help called? And Teel said yes. Was that key? COLBERT: Yes. Witness Teel was a cooperative witness for the defense, and appeared to answer in the affirmative to virtually every question that’s asked on cross examination. That doesn’t happen in most cases. Defense lawyers have to work considerably harder to get officers to acknowledge–.
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