The first of six Baltimore police officers to be put on trial in the death of Freddie Gray took the stand Wednesday, the AP reports. Officer William Porter has been charged with manslaughter in the death of the 25-year-old Gray, which set off massive riots in Baltimore last April. Prosecutors claim Gray died from a spinal injury while in the back of a police van. In his first chance to defend himself, Porter says he didn't call for an ambulance despite Gray's repeated requests for a medic because Gray "was unable to give any reason for any kind of medical emergency" and didn't show signs of having one, reports the Baltimore Sun. He says he heard Gray claim he couldn't breathe during his arrest but not while in the back of the van.
Overall, Porter and his defense attempted to paint a picture of an officer who was trying to do what was right but "didn't know what the situation was," the Sun reports. Porter demonstrated how he helped Gray off the floor of the van during one of its stops. He also claims he told the van's driver—who had "primary responsibility"—they needed to take Gray to the hospital but couldn't order the driver to do so. He says when he found Gray unconscious during another stop, he tried to stabilize his airway and waited with him until a medic arrived. "It was a very traumatic day for me also," Porter says. "Just seeing him in the neighborhood every day, then calling his name and not getting a response." As for why Gray wasn't wearing a seatbelt in the van, Porter says in hundreds of incidences he's never seen arrestees belted in.