Early testimony in William Porter trial offers revealing exchanges

The second day of testimony in the trial of Officer William Porter, the first case brought in the death of Freddie Gray, delivered some key exchanges that potentially reveal how both sides will proceed.

Prosecutors first called Baltimore Police agent John Bilheimer to the stand. Bilheimer, an 18-year vet who appeared dressed in blue uniform, was an instructor for 10 years who in 2012 taught a class, attended by Porter, on transporting detainees.

It instructs officers to "secure the prisoner in the restraing belts provided."

"And did you teach that to Officer Porter?" asked Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledose.

"Yes," he responded.

A workbook used by Porter was entered into evidence, and in it was a passage, read aloud by Bilheimer, that said "We do not transport injured people" and instead instructed to contact medical help.

Defense attorney Joseph Murtha countered that the person responsible for the safety of a detainee's body is the person in custody of that body, in this case the driver of the van.

In re-direct, after having several questions struck by Judge Barry G. Williams, Bledsoe asked: "Is the wagon officer the only officer responsible for an arrestee?"

"No," said Bilheimer.

During testimony for the next state witness, Capt. Martin Bartness, chief of staff for the department who was part of a small unit tasked with developing policies and procedures, defense attorney Gary Proctor continued his tactic of pointing out BPD's faults, at one point asking if the department is "more interested in catching bad guys" than policy and procedure.

"They're both priorities," said Bartness.

At issue was a new order on detaining and transporting suspects sent out on April 9, three days before police arrested Gray. Proctor noted that the new policy came with five others, totaling 80 pages in all, and that Porter had received 40 other emails on April 9 alone.

"Back when the email was sent on April 9, is there any way to show this guy right here opened it?" Proctor asked, referring to Porter.

Bartness testified there was no way of knowing.

The very next day former Police Commissioner Anthony Batts rescinded two more orders.

Bartness later testified there was no way of knowing if Porter had read the email, or if it had ever been read aloud at roll call.

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