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First Freddie Gray Trial Begins

A police academy instructor offered testimony Wednesday afternoon in the first trial of an officer who has been charged in connection with the arrest and death of Freddie Gray last spring.

Earlier in the day a jury of four men and eight women was seated to decide the fate of Officer William Porter, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.

Alice Carson-Johnson, who has taught the law enforcement emergency medical care course in the Baltimore Police Academy since 2013, said officers are taught what their role and responsibility are when a medical emergency occurs.

“Officer safety is vital first,“ she said. In addition, she said officers are told, “If you know someone requires medical attention always call for medical assistance.“

Assistant State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow and attorneys for Porter questioned Carson-Johnson about police safety training for nearly two hours.

The instructor testified that officers are taught to complete a primary survey to determine what is wrong with an individual. The Maryland Police and Correctional Training Commission designed and approved the curriculum, oversaw the training objectives and set a score of 80 percent or higher as a requirement to pass the course.

Carson-Johnson revealed that police receive 24 hours of medical safety training over the course of three days during their six months in the academy.

Gray, 26, died on April 19 after suffering a spinal injury while riding in the back of a police van as he was being taken to Central Booking. In the wake of his death, there was looting and rioting in his Sandtown neighborhood and downtown Baltimore.

The investigation into Gray’s death showed he was not wearing a seatbelt, as required by police department policy, while he rode in the van that made six stops. Investigators also determined Gray had asked for medical attention but never received it.

It’s the “general responsibility of the officer,” to call a medic, Carson- Johnson said.

A defense attorney asked Carson-Johnson if an officer could forget his or her training after some longevity on the job. She testified that the information could be lost if the training was not applied on duty within three to 12 months after completing the course.

There are “no refresher courses” required, she said.

Porter faces 25 years in prison if convicted of all charges. The trial is expected to last two weeks.

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