I'm not there and I'm no lawyer, so far be it from me to figure out what's going on.
But I'm having a tough time figuring out Porter's role in a crime. Today seemed to be focused on seat belts. Gray wasn't Porter's prisoner. It wasn't Porter's job to buckle him in.
I'm curious about this line: "The defense grilled him [Capt. Bartness] about the complexity and inanity of internal police rules, but Bartness did not take the bait."
Other useful facts.
From Sun columnist Dan Roderick:
For one thing, the revised rule about seat-belting all prisoners went out on a department-wide email blast with an 80-page attachment. Porter was assigned to the Western District, and the officers there complained about the district's slow, antiquated computer system. The Baltimore Police Department had general computer network issues earlier this year. And there was some kind of a virus back in the spring. And there’s no way to know if Porter ever received the email with the new seat belt policy. And the memo about the seat belts apparently was not read aloud at roll call.I find it hard to believe that Porter or any cop would be unaware that a prisoner should be buckled in. But keep in mind I was there 15 years ago. Things can change.
But perhaps more important is this: the old rules, until a week before Gray's death, said you didn't have to buckle in a suspect if it wasn't safe for the officer to do so. It's absolutely probable that Porter did not get the new memo, that disallowed the "officer safety" exception. The new rule made a rule that I thought was the old rule. But there's no good way for an officer to get the new rule.
But I had no idea, from when I was there, that there was ever an "officer safety" exception to the seat belt rule. Keep in mind I never drove the wagon. And we (almost) never took prisoners in normal patrol cars. We had one cage car, so I did transport a few prisoners. But not often.
I'm not certain why this matter, but it does show you the SNAFU environment of a police department. When I was there, new G.O.'s were read at role call. Usually. If you weren't at work that day, you didn't get the memo. Or maybe you sergeant would give you the memo to put in your bursting binder. Now G.O.'s come out pretty often, and most are irrelevant to your job. So you ignore or don't understand them.
Now, apparently, they come in an email. With an 80-page attachment. And you have to access it on a shitty district computer that may not work. What is an officer supposed to do? Seriously? Does the whole squad line up and take turns reading the attachment? Or do go out and answer calls for service? Or better yet, give special attention to the drug corner by the church that the State's Attorney Mosby -- the current prosecutor -- pressured you to get rid of?
I mean when is the last time you read you read the fine print to the changes of your credit card? Or read the legalese before clicking "accept" on something online?
Should police officers be familiar with the rules? Of course. Can a police officer be familiar with every General Order? No. Is ignorance of the law ever a good excuse? Well, legally no. But morally, actually, yeah, it can be. And is the whole damn police organization one reflexive CYA designed to fuck a cop for violating some General Order when somebody needs to be fucked? Abso-fucking-lutely.