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In the Media: Porter Retrial to Be June 13; NAACP Challenges Cancellation of Red Line Rail

The six Baltimore Police officers charged in Freddie Gray's homicide.
Baltimore City Police Department
The six Baltimore Police officers charged in Freddie Gray's homicide.

A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.

From The Baltimore Sun: Porter Retrial Scheduled for June 13; Goodson’s Trial Unchanged, to Begin Jan 6

"Officer William G. Porter will not be retried until June for his alleged role in the death of Freddie Gray, likely creating a problem for prosecutors who had hoped to call him as a witness at the coming trial of another officer charged in the case.

"With charges still hanging over his head after a mistrial last week, legal experts say, Porter would be expected to assert his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called as a witness against Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who will be tried next month.

"Experts say that if prosecutors want Porter to testify or want even to introduce his statements to police investigators, they likely will have to grant him immunity.

"'If they want to use those [statements], they have to find a legal way to force Officer Porter to take the stand or negotiate with him so he is willing to voluntarily waive his privilege against self-incrimination,' said Adam Ruther, a defense attorney and former prosecutor.

"Ruther said it is not impossible for prosecutors to get Porter on the stand, but they will have to find a 'novel and cutting edge application of the Fifth Amendment' in lieu of dropping his charges."

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From The Washington Post: NAACP to Challenge Cancellation of Baltimore Red Line Rail Project

"The NAACP on Monday filed a federal civil rights complaint against Maryland, alleging that the state discriminated against African American residents in Baltimore when Gov. Larry Hogan killed the Red Line rail project and diverted state money to road and bridge projects elsewhere.

“'This is a critical civil rights issue,' said Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. 'Everyone who knows this city knows that the lack of rapid transit restricts access to jobs and housing for low- and middle-income African American residents living along the city’s east-west corridor.'

"The defense fund and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland are asking the U.S. Transportation Department to investigate whether Maryland violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when Maryland scuttled the 14-mile, $2.9 billion rail project.

"The complaint was filed on behalf of the Baltimore City chapter of the NAACP, Baltimore Regional Initiative Developing Genuine Equality (BRIDGE) and African American residents.

"A spokesman for Hogan said the complaint has 'zero credibility or legal standing,' noting that the first-term Republican governor recently announced a $135 million plan to revamp Baltimore’s bus system and 'has been fighting for increased highway user revenues since the moment he stepped into office.'”

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From The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore Officers on Body Camera Plot: ‘When can we get these back’

"As dozens of Baltimore police officers equipped with body cameras under a two-month pilot program lined up to return them, some asked eagerly about getting the technology back.

"'They were asking, you know, 'When can we get these back? I like these. I don't want to give them up,'' Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said Monday. 'They've grown used to having the body-worn cameras in a very, very short amount of time. And we think it has brought our agency one step closer to the transparency that we need, the trust we need to build with our community, the two-way respect that we need to push public safety forward in Baltimore.'

"The pilot program, which concluded Friday, equipped about 150 officers in the Central, Eastern and Western districts with one of three cameras, each provided by a different vendor. The officers reviewed the cameras they used, and commanders are now reviewing the performance of each vendor and its technology. The city will eventually select one of those vendors to provide cameras to the entire force under a permanent camera program starting next year.

"Baltimore's program is not the first in Maryland, but it would be the state's largest. Laurel was among the first, adopting cameras in 2013. Baltimore County announced in September that 150 of its officers will be equipped with body cameras starting in July, with more than 1,400 officers equipped in 2017. Similar programs are being rolled out across the country."

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