A Maryland judge on Wednesday ordered a Baltimore police officer to testify against other officers charged in the death of detainee Freddie Gray.
A lawyer for the officer, William Porter, said he would seek an appeals court injunction to block Porter from testifying against Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. and Sergeant Alicia White.
Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams said Porter, whose own trial ended in a hung jury last month, could be compelled to take the stand since state prosecutors had offered him immunity in exchange for testifying.
Williams said during a pre-trial hearing that Porter’s “extremely important testimony is needed in the Goodson and White cases.”
Goodson is the second of six officers scheduled to stand trial for Gray’s death in April and faces the most serious charge, second-degree depraved-heart murder. The trial is set to begin on Monday with jury selection.
The 46-year-old officer, who like Gray is black, was the driver of the van where Gray, who was arrested after fleeing police, sustained the broken neck that killed him.
The majority black city of 620,000 people exploded in arson and rioting after Gray’s funeral. The unrest followed other police killings of black men in cities including New York and Ferguson, Missouri.
Porter’s own trial on involuntary manslaughter and other charges ended in a mistrial last month and a retrial is set for June.
Williams issued his order after denying a defense motion to quash a subpoena forcing Porter to testify. Porter took the stand to say that he would invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination if called to testify.
Porter’s lawyers said that if he is forced to testify, material could emerge that could be used against him in retrial.
Doug Colbert, a University of Maryland law professor, said of Williams’ decision, “This is a straightforward ruling. The government has the power to compel testimony if they offer immunity.”
Goodson faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the murder charge. In Maryland, “depraved-heart” murder is a killing done while acting with extreme disregard for human life.
He also is accused of manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
Williams also denied a request from Goodson’s lawyers to move the trial out of the city due to the intense publicity surrounding the case.
(Reporting by Donna Owens; Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and James Dalgleish)
US planning to slash troops in Germany: report
US President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to slash the number of troops it maintains in Germany by more than a quarter in the coming months, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
The newspaper said the Defense Department would cut the number of military personnel by 9,500 from the current 34,500 permanently assigned to Germany postings.
The Journal also said a cap of 25,000 would be set on how many US troops could be inside German at any one time, whether in permanent postings or temporary rotations, half of the current allowance.
The move would significantly reduce the US commitment to European defense under the NATO umbrella, though it could also impact Pentagon operations related to Africa and the Middle East.
Manhattan DA announces protesters arrested by NYPD will not be charged: ‘Our office has a moral imperative’
The Manhattan District Attorney announced on Friday that his office would not be prosecuting protesters arrested for low-level crimes.
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. announced that Unlawful Assembly and Disorderly Conduct would not be prosecuted during the demonstrations over police violence.
"“The prosecution of protestors charged with these low-level offenses undermines critical bonds between law enforcement and the communities we serve. Days after the killing of George Floyd, our nation and our city are at a crossroads in our continuing endeavor to confront racism and systemic injustice wherever it exists. Our office has a moral imperative to enact public policies which assure all New Yorkers that in our justice system and our society, black lives matter and police violence is a crime. We commend the thousands of our fellow New Yorkers who have peacefully assembled to demand these achievable aims, and our door is open to any New Yorker who wishes to be heard," Vance said in a statement.
Chicago Police Board president files complaint alleging he was struck 5 times by cops at George Floyd protest
On Friday, WTTW reported that Ghian Foreman, the president of the Chicago Police Board, has filed a complaint alleging he was beaten in the legs five times by police officers at a protest against the killing of George Floyd last Sunday.
The Chicago Police Board is an independent civilian commission that has power over police disciplinary cases.
"Foreman filed a complaint with the Citizens Office of Police Accountability alleging that he was struck by at least one officer during a protest sparked by the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, said Ephraim Eaddy, a spokesperson for the agency," said the report. "Foreman’s complaint, which identifies the officer Foreman said struck him, is one of 344 complaints of police misconduct filed with COPA between midnight May 29 and 7 a.m. Friday, Eaddy said. The complaint itself is confidential."