Seat belts are a point of contention in this week's trial of Baltimore Police Officer William Porter who has been charged with second-degree assault and manslaughter, among other things, in the death of Freddie Gray.
Gray, who died of a spinal cord injury, was cuffed and put into a police transport van without a seat belt.
But Porter's defense attorney Gary Proctor said in opening arguments this week that Porter could not be blamed for overlooking a seat belt. He had only been on the force for two years and had to wing it, or "learn by doing" as he sorted out the requirements of the job. Yes, Officer Porter did not put a seat belt on Gray, Proctor told the court, "but you can't hold him accountable when no one did it."
It's an odd argument.
Police in Maryland issued 56,111 citations for drivers who failed to buckle up in 2014; Baltimore cops issued 3,866, according to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. In the first six months of 2015, cops ticketed 1,687 Baltimore residents for eschewing seat belts.