Judge: Two officers' statements admissible in Freddie Gray trials
Five of the officers provided statements, while the sixth refused to talk
By Juliet Linderman
BALTIMORE — The statements two Baltimore police officers made to investigators probing the death of Freddie Gray can be used at the officers' trials, a judge ruled Tuesday.
All six officers appeared before Judge Barry Williams, who considered whether statements by two of the six officers would be admissible. The contents of the statements have not been publicly disclosed.
Officer William Porter, the sole officer to waive his appearance at a hearing last month, was in court Tuesday. His trial, the first, is to begin Nov. 30.
The others facing charges are officers Edward Nero, Garrett Miller and Caesar Goodson; Lt. Brian Rice; and Sgt. Alicia White.
All face assault and reckless endangerment and misconduct in office charges. Porter, Rice, White and Goodson also face manslaughter charges. Goodson, who drove the police van in which Gray was critically injured, faces an additional charge of "depraved-heart" murder.
Statements Of First Officer To Go On Trial Admissible
The judge ruled Porter's statements can be used during his trial.
Porter was interviewed by Detective Syreeta Teel once over the phone April 15 and once April 17 in person.
Gary Proctor, an attorney for Porter, argued that the officer's statement was coerced because Teel said during the phone conversation with Porter, "I need you to tell me what happened."
"'I need you' is akin to an order," Proctor said.
During the in-person interview on April 17, Porter was read his rights and voluntarily gave a statement.
Porter is accused of failing to seek medical attention for Gray in the back of the police transport van. According to charging documents, Porter only repositioned Gray from the floor of the van to the bench rather than seek a medic when Gray told him he could not breathe.
Williams ruled "the interview was not done with undue influence" and denied Porter's motion to suppress the material.
Sergeant's Statements Also To Be Used At Trial
The judge also ruled that White's statements to investigators are admissible in court.
According to charging documents, a police van made several stops, during which White and two other officers checked on Gray but didn't call a medic.
Williams ruled that White's April 12 and April 17 statements can be used during her trial, scheduled for Jan. 25. Williams decided the first statement can be used because White was interviewed as a witness and didn't need to hear her Miranda rights. He found the second statement admissible because White offered it voluntarily after she was advised of her rights.
"She had the opportunity to say, 'No,' to say she didn't want to give any statements," Williams said.
White's attorney, Ivan Bates, argued that she wasn't aware she'd become a suspect after initially being interviewed as a witness and that she only initialed the Miranda rights on April 17 because a detective interviewing her said that wouldn't waive her rights.
Teel, who interviewed White on April 17, testified that White was called for the second interview because of "inconsistencies" in her initial testimony.
Other Statements In Question
Also Tuesday, Nero, Miller and Rice temporarily withdrew their requests to suppress their statements, and Goodson never made a statement to investigators.
Investigative Files To Be Turned Over
Williams also ordered prosecutors to turn over the rest of their investigative files to the defense by Oct. 28.
At the end of the hearing, the judge issued a gag order. He instructed the attorneys not to discuss the cases with people who are not involved in the prosecution or the defense.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press