Maryland’s highest court ruled Tuesday that Baltimore police officer William Porter, who was charged in the death of Freddie Gray, who died in police custody, must testify against colleagues while awaiting a retrial.
The Court of Appeals gave no reason for the decision but said a statement would be made later. A judge ruled that Porter would be required to testify against some, but not all, of the officers charged in the Freddie Gray case.
The 25-year-old Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while handcuffed and shackled in the back of a police van last April, without being secured by a seatbelt; he died one week later.
Large protests, both peaceful and destructive, broke out after Gray’s death. While some claimed that his being black contributed to his mistreatment, three of the six officers charged in the case are black.
Porter is awaiting retrial after the end of his initial trial met with a hung jury in December. He testified that he had done nothing wrong, as it was the driver’s responsibility to secure Gray in a seatbelt.
Baltimore police officers charged in Freddie Gray's death, top row from left, Caesar Goodson Jr., Garrett Miller and Edward Nero, and bottom row from left, William Porter, Brian Rice and Alicia White.
The six police involved in the case, one of whom is a woman, face an array of charges, from reckless endangerment to second-degree murder.
Porter was the first officer to stand. The question of whether he could be made to testify against others prevented their trials from moving forward.
The appeals court heard arguments concerning the issue last week. When questioned on why Porter should not testify at multiple trials, his attorney said that the officer could be charged with perjury each time he took the stand.
On Tuesday, the Court of Appeal issued two rulings, the first of which agreed with Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams in his decision to compel Porter to testify against colleagues Sgt. Alicia White and Officer Caesar Goodson. All three face charges of assault, manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Goodson, who drove the police vehicle, additionally faces the most serious charge of second-degree murder.
The second court order rescinded Judge Williams’ decision that Porter did not have to testify against officers Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, and Lt. Brian Rice, who face misconduct in office, assault, and reckless endangerment charges. Rice is also charged with manslaughter.
Tuesday’s rulings mean that said cases will be sent back to a lower court, and the court may move forward with the trials.