One Baltimore police officer warned that Freddie Gray needed medical help while being transported in a police van, though he wondered whether Gray may have been faking his injuries, according to a published report.
The Baltimore Sun reported Saturday, citing investigators who reviewed the officers’ statements during a departmental probe, that those statements – which haven’t been revealed to the public – explain why each of the six officers charged in the incident are receiving separate trials. Statements provided by the officers reportedly tell different accounts of what happened.
Officer William Porter told investigators that after he checked on Gray on April 12, he told the police van’s driver that the city wouldn’t book Gray because he needed medical attention, according to the newspaper.
Once Porter helped Gray up, he asked him if he needed to go to the hospital. After Gray’s response that he wanted to go to the hospital, Porter told the van’s driver, Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., that the booking facility wouldn’t take Gray, but he wasn’t sure if Gray was really in distress or just wanted to go to the hospital instead of jail, according to the Sun.
The statements Porter made helped launch the initial police review of Gray’s death in police custody. Goodson was the only officer who was charged in Gray’s death that didn’t provide a statement to investigators, according to the Sun.
Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow asked Judge Barry Williams on Tuesday to schedule Porter’s trial first because he’s “a necessary and material witness in the cases” against Goodson and Sgt. Alicia White.
Porter, Goodson and White all face manslaughter, misconduct in office, assault and reckless endangerment charges. Goodson also faces a charge of "depraved-heart" murder.
Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was arrested on April 12 after he ran from police in West Baltimore. Officers and attorneys maintain he had an illegal switchblade, but prosecutors say Gray was in possession of a legal knife.
While handcuffed and shackled in the police transport van, Gray suffered a spinal injury. He died in the hospital a week alter.
Porter wasn’t there during Gray’s arrest, but met the police van at one of several stops it made before delivering Gray to the Western District station house roughly 45 minutes after he was detained.
Prosecutors say Gray told Porter he couldn’t breather and asked for medical attention, but instead of calling for medical help, Porter helped Gray off the floor and onto the bench and didn’t secure him with a seatbelt, a violation of department policy.
Porter then followed the van to another stop, where prosecutors say Porter, along with Goodson and White, opened the van again to observe Gray, but this time the man was unresponsive.
However, the Baltimore Sun reports when Porter went to observe Gray in the police van, he told investigators Gray seemed “calm.”
White was also called to investigate citizen reports of a bungled arrest. White claims she couldn’t see Gray’s face and when she asked him what was going on, he didn’t say anything. White said she assumed Gray was being uncooperative. White said Gray only responded when she called his name, not if he needed an ambulance.
An ambulance was summoned after police arrived at the station. Gray was unresponsive when he was taken out of the van, the Sun reports.
The Sun reports that White said in her statement that Porter told her Gray’s medical problem was “jail-it is.” She said none of the officers told her that Gray had asked to be transported to a hospital.
Charging documents say that Gray wasn’t breathing by the time officers tried to remove him from the van at the Western District station. When a medic arrived at the scene, it was determined he was already in cardiac arrest.
The first trial is scheduled Oct. 13. However, defense attorneys indicated in a filing that some defendants might seek postponements because of "discovery issues" regarding evidence and witnesses. Williams said in a memo they would get a chance to argue for postponements.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.