BALTIMORE (AP) — A Baltimore judge ruled Wednesday that a police officer facing charges related to the death of Freddie Gray must testify against a fellow officer, an unprecedented move that means the officer could face jail time if he refuses.
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams ruled that William Porter, whose trial ended in a mistrial last month, can be compelled to take the stand in the trial of wagon driver Caesar Goodson. Goodson is facing the most serious charge of the six officers charged in the case: second-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
The ruling could have sweeping ramifications. While its immediate impact on other cases is unclear, the judge warned prosecutors that calling Porter as a witness against Goodson could make it more difficult to put Porter on trial again.
In a September letter to the court, prosecutors indicated they intended to call Porter as a witness against both Goodson and another officer, Sgt. Alicia White, arguing that his testimony is crucial. But Porter’s attorneys had said in court documents he planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called to the stand. Now, Porter is no longer able to do so; if he does, he can be held in contempt of court and potentially jailed.