Jurors deliberate over fate of officer accused in death of Freddie Gray

BALTIMORE -- Prosecutors say it would have taken just two clicks for Officer William Porter to save Freddie Gray's life: one click to buckle the man, whose ankles and wrists were shackled, into a seatbelt in the back of the police transport van where his neck was broken; another click to call into his police radio for an ambulance after Gray said he needed a medic.

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But Porter's attorneys said on the day Gray was injured the officer did more than enough, and that Gray's death had nothing to do with his actions.

"Is two, three, four seconds worth a life?" prosecutor Janice Bledsoe asked the Baltimore jury.

Jurors will have to determine who they believe most: the prosecutors who say Porter is an indifferent cop and criminally responsible for Gray's fatal spinal injury, or the defence attorneys' characterization that he is a falsely accused police officer who asked after Gray and told his supervisors to bring the man to the hospital.

Porter faces charges of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct. Gray died April 19, a week after he broke his neck in the transport van.

Jurors began deliberations Monday after a two-week trial.

Prosecutors have had to prove criminality by inaction.

His defence countered that the case is based on conjecture, and there is no evidence Porter caused Gray's death.

Porter testified that Gray showed no signs of pain or distress before he arrived at the police station critically injured.

Prosecutors said this was a blatant lie.

"Freddie Gray went into the van healthy and he came out of the van dead," prosecutor Janice Bledsoe reminded jurors.

The transport van "became his casket on wheels" after Porter repeatedly denied Gray medical care and left him handcuffed and shackled but unbuckled, Bledsoe said.

Gray was arrested while fleeing police in his neighbourhood, just seven city blocks from the station, yet police stopped the van repeatedly during a circuitous trip around West Baltimore that stretched on for 45 minutes.

"Click," she said, and then repeated. "How long does that take, to click a seat belt and click a radio and ask for a medic? Is two, three, four seconds worth a life? It's all it would have taken."

Bledsoe showed jurors the unfastened seat belt from the transport wagon. "It's got Gray's blood on it," she said.

"Don't fall for that," countered Porter's attorney Joseph Murtha. He argued that expert witnesses disagreed on exactly when Gray's neck was broken during his trip to the police station, and said this alone should give jurors reasonable doubt.

Gray's death was indeed a "horrific tragedy" but "there is literally no evidence" Porter is responsible, he said. "This case is based on rush to judgment and fear. What's an acronym for fear? False evidence appears real."

Deliberations will continue Tuesday.


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