Why Baltimore police officers want statements tossed in Freddie Gray case

Six police officers are scheduled to go on trial for charges relating to the death of Freddie Gray on Nov. 30. A judge will decide if jurors will hear the officers' initial statements.

Kim Hairston /The Baltimore Sun/AP
From left to right, Attorneys Marc Zayon, Michael Belsky, Chaz Ball and Mike Davey leave Courthouse East after a scheduling hearing for Caesar Goodson, Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, Brian Rice, Alicia White, and William Porter, police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, Sept. 29, in Baltimore.

Court proceedings are underway in the case of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died from an injury he sustained while in the custody of Baltimore Police last April. A judge is holding a hearing to determine the admissibility of statements made to investigators by five of the six police officers charged in connection with Mr. Gray's death.

Those officers are requesting their statements be thrown out, and therefore not be made available to any potential jury, under claims the statements were improperly obtained. The sixth officer facing charges didn't give a statement.

The hearings may bring forth details about what was said in the contested police statements, but are more likely to focus on the specific procedures investigators used to gather the statements, legal experts told The Baltimore Sun

The Sun reports that "prosecutors have said Gray asked officers for medical attention but never received it, and that he was shackled but not seat-belted in the police van, which is against department policy."

More specifically, The Sun reports that Officer William Porter told investigators that he had "warned" a fellow officer that Gray needed medical care, adding that he was not sure if Gray was faking injuries to avoid jail. Mr. Porter also told investigators he had informed Sgt. Alicia White that Gray needed medical attention. Ms. White contradicted those claims, telling investigators she was not told Gray needed care.

Police have the same rights as any other defendant, including the right to remain silent when questioned by law enforcement regarding events in which they were involved. They also have protections under Maryland's Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights, which affords some further rights to officers accused of misconduct, as well as by legal precedent, The Sun reports.

Circuit Judge Barry Williams is presiding over the hearing which begins Tuesday, and is expected to last two days.

Charges were announced by Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby against the six officers on May 1, and the first trial in Gray's death is set to start Nov. 30.

Goodson is the only officer charged with second-degree murder. Three others, White, Porter and Lt. Brian Rice are facing manslaughter charges. Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller face lesser charges, including second-degree assault. All six are charged with misconduct, and are currently free on bail.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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