Brandon Ross, friend of Freddie Gray with him on day of arrest, testifies

Brandon Ross, a good friend of Freddie Gray who was walking with him before his fateful encounter with the police, testified today in the trial of Officer William Porter, one of the Baltimore Police officers charged in Gray's death.

When Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledsoe asked her witness "How close were you with Freddie Gray?" Ross responded, "We were like brothers."

After Bledsoe had him identify several landmarks on a map of the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, Ross recounted how he was walking with Gray and another friend on his way to meet with a man for whom he did carpentry.

As the group was walking on North Avenue, "Freddie started walking fast and took off running as we rounded the corner" of North Mount Street, Ross testified. Meanwhile, Ross said he ran to the other side of Mount, and the next time he saw Gray was at Presbury and North Mount streets, where he was being arrested.

Prosecutors then played the two most well-known videos of Gray's arrest, the one filmed by Kevin Moore with Gray pinned to the ground by two bike cops, and then a video filmed by Ross as Gray was being loaded into a police van.

The videos were obscured from the media section of the courtroom by an easel holding a map, but Gray's screams of pain in Moore's video were clearly audible in the courtroom.

Ross testified he went to grab a phone. "I heard more screaming," he said, "and noises that sounded like tasing."

The prosecution then showed showed Ross' video of Gray being loaded into a police van.

In the video, Ross could be heard repeatedly saying "That's not cool" and "That ain't cool, man." Off camera, a woman approached and asked, "Is he alright?"

"No, he ain't," Ross said.

Then, he called over to Porter: "Hey Porter, can we get a supervisor up here please?"

Near the end of the video, as the screen was black, Ross told someone nearby: "You could hear him kicking the cruiser. You could hear him screaming and shit."

The video ended, and Judge Barry G. Williams called for a recess. A woman, later identified as Gray's mother, burst into tears and was consoled by another woman who walked her out of the courtroom. Ross walked by the media section visibly disturbed, pulling a baseball cap over his head, his eyes fixed on the floor.

After the break, Ross demonstrated for the jury the way Gray was put into the van, at one point testifying it looked like officers had him "hogtied."

Ross testified he went down to the Western District station to file a complaint, but nobody answered the door when he knocked.

In cross examination, defense attorney Gary Proctor tried to parse just when his client showed up to the scene.

"Would you agree with me that Mr. Porter's car is pulling up when Gray is put into the van?" he asked.

"No, I would not agree with that," said Ross.

"Would you like me to play it again?"

"You can play it again."

The video was shown on a television monitor a second time.

Proctor then asked if it was fair to say Porter walks up a few seconds before Gray is put into the back of the van; Ross affirmed that it was.

He then asked about Ross what he said at the end of the video. "Was it shaking?"

"I can't really see the van shaking but I heard a noise," Ross testified.

In re-direct, Bledsoe parsed the video even further, stopping and starting the clip multiple times to ask Ross where Porter is stationed at a given time. At one point, as Porter appeared near the back doors, she asked, "Are the wagon doors opened or closed?"

"Wide open," Ross replied.

In a key exchange, however, Proctor asked, "Is there any point in that video where Officer Porter lays a finger on Freddie Gray?"

"No," Ross testified.

Today's proceedings ended partway through the testimony of Det. Syreeta Teel, a member of the Internal Affairs Division who conducted took part an investigation on behalf of the department. The trial resumes tomorrow at 9:30 a.m.

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