Freddie Gray Trial: No Reason Not to Buckle in Gray, Unless Officer 'Didn't Care,' Prosecutor Says

The first of six police officers facing charges is in court.

ByABC News
December 2, 2015, 4:14 PM

— -- The 12-person jury and four alternates have been selected for the first trial in connection to the death of Freddie Gray.

Jury selection for the trial of William Porter, the first of six Baltimore police officers facing criminal charges for Gray's death, started Monday and finished earlier today.

During today's opening statements, state prosecutors laid out a timeline of the six stops that the police transport vehicle made while Gray was inside.

"He could walk, talk, run and breathe" before getting inside the vehicle, prosecutors said, noting that they have video that will demonstrate his physical abilities.

The state prosecutors argued that Porter had the opportunity to help Gray, since Porter was in the van for five of the six stops, but chose not to. In one specific instance, the prosecutors said that Gray and Porter conversed, with Gray saying that he couldn't "get off the floor." Porter then had the vehicle stop and he went to the back and helped sit Gray on the bench, but did not buckle him in as police training mandates.

Prosecutor Michael Schatzow said there is no reason not to put a seat belt on someone in that situation "unless you didn't care."

Both Gray's mother and State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore's top prosecutor who filed the charges against the officers, were present in court today.

In its opening remarks, the defense said Porter was unaware of the seat belt order, issued about the same time as Gray's death, that was buried in more than 1,400 pages of his work emails, suggesting a legal strategy of making the seat belt policy a major focus to show Porter didn't know about a change in procedure, which would not constitute misconduct but rather that he didn't know any better.

"Mr. Gray's death was tragic but so is charging someone who did not participate in it," said Porter's attorney, Gary Proctor.

The defense cited Gray's "crazy man" behavior while in custody after he was arrested on April 12 and that Porter thought Gray was faking an injury to avoid jail. The defense argued that there wasn't any physical evidence that Gray was in need of medical attention.

The jury is made up of three white women, five black women, one white man and three black men. The alternate jury pool is made up of three black men and one white man.

Porter's defense attorneys have made repeated requests, without success, to move the trial out of Baltimore, arguing that the jury pool would be tainted because of its proximity to the incident.

Porter faces second-degree assault, involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office charges. He has pleaded not guilty to all of the charges, as have the other five officers.

Gray died in April from a severe spinal injury while in custody when he was arrested after fleeing from police. Porter allegedly failed to get medical help for Gray as the transport vehicle carrying the suspect made several stops in Baltimore after picking him up on the way to the police station.