State’s Attorney charges six Baltimore police officers


Suffice it to say that the media will be obsessing about this story all weekend, and out in the streets trying to instigate hoping to cover a riot, as they have all week, because “that’s entertainment!

Let’s go to the local source for reporting, The Baltimore Sun. Six Baltimore officers charged in death of Freddie Gray:

BaltimoreThe six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray – who died last month after being injured in police custody – have been charged criminally, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday.

Mosby‘s announcement on the steps of the War Memorial Building was greeted with cheers and applause. Mosby said she told Gray’s family that “no one is above the law and I would pursue justice upon their behalf.”

* * *

Word traveled quickly of the charges against the officers. In West Baltimore, cars honked their horns. A man hanging out of a truck window pumped his fists and yelled; “Justice! Justice! Justice!”

At the corner where Gray was arrested, 53-year-old Willie Rooks held his hands up in peace signs and screamed, “Justice!”

Reacting to news of the charges, President Barack Obama called it “absolutely vital that the truth come out.”

“What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth,” the president said. “That’s what people around the country expect.”

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, who was the driver of a police van that carried Gray through the streets of Baltimore, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two vehicular manslaughter charges and misconduct in office. A man who answered the phone at Goodson’s home declined to comment and hung up the phone.

Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Lt. Brian Rice, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Sgt. Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Officer Edward Nero, 29, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Officer Garrett Miller, 26, was charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.

If convicted of all charges, Goodson would face up to 63 years in prison. Rice would face up to 30 years and Porter, Nero, Miller and White would face up to 20 years.

Warrants were issued for the arrest of all six officers. It wasn’t immediately clear where the officers were Friday morning.

“We’re not sure what time they are coming in. They will go through the process like anyone else,” said Gerard Shields, a spokesman for the department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

After the officers are arrested they will go to Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center downtown to be processed and where they will have their bail set by a court commissioner within 24 hours. If they are not released or cannot post bail, they will go before a judge in District Court the next business day.

If they are held, Shields wouldn’t say where they would be placed in the jail, citing “security reasons.”

* * *

Just before Mosby announced the criminal charges, the Fraternal Order of Police defended the officers involved.

“Not one of the officers involved in this tragic situation left home in the morning with the anticipation that someone with whom they interacted would not go home that night,” Gene Ryan, president of FOP Lodge 3, wrote in a letter to Mosby. “As tragic as this situation is, none of the officers involved are responsible for the death of Mr. Gray.”

After bystander video of the April 12 arrest surfaced, showing Gray dragging his feet as he was put in a police transport van, there have been cries for charges against the officers.

Mosby said Gray was improperly arrested because officers had no probable cause to detain him. Officers found a knife in Gray’s pants, but it was not a switchblade, as police previously said, and was legal under Maryland law.

In a detailed recounting of the events, Mosby described Gray being repeatedly denied medical attention by police officers, even as he asked for medical help and later was unresponsive in a police van.

Gray suffered a “severe and critical neck injury” as a result of being handcuffed, shackled and being unrestrained in the van.

Mosby said an investigation found officers placed Gray in wrist and ankle restraints and left him stomach-down on the floor of a police van as they drove around West Baltimore. Despite his repeated requests for medical attention, they did not provide it and continued to drive without securing him in the van, she said.

Officers on at least five occasions placed Gray in the van or checked on him and failed to secure him, she said. By the time they reached the Western District police station, he was not breathing and was in cardiac arrest, she said.

Mosby said her office did a “comprehensive, thorough and independent” investigation that began April 13, the day after Gray was injured.

“My team worked around the clock, 12- and 14-hour days,” she said.

Mosby worked quickly in filing charges. Baltimore Police handed over their investigation to her office Thursday, one day earlier than they had promised.

The Fraternal Order of Police asked Mosby to appoint an independent prosecutor in the case, citing her ties to the Gray family’s attorney, William Murphy, as well as her lead prosecutor’s connections to members of the local media. Murphy donated $5,000 to Mosby’s campaign and served on her transition committee.

“While I have the utmost respect for you and your office, I have very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest presented by your office conducting an investigation in this case,” Ryan wrote in his letter.

The FOP letter also expresses concerns regarding Mosby’s marriage to Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby.

“Most importantly, it is clear that your husband’s political future will be directly impacted, for better or worse, by the outcome of your investigation,” the letter states. “In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety or a violation of the Professional Rules of Professional Responsibility, I ask that you appoint a Special Prosecutor to determine whether or not any charges should be filed.”

Mosby responded to that request by saying: “The people of Baltimore City elected me and there is no accountability with a special prosecutor.”

“I will prosecute any case within my jurisdiction,” she added.

* * *

Mosby called on the public to remain calm.

“I heard your call for ‘no justice, no peace,'” she said. “Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.”

Demonstrations were planned in Baltimore for Friday night and Saturday, well before Mosby made her announcement of criminal charges against the officers.

A group called the Bmore United Coalition plans to meet at the state’s attorney’s office at 3 p.m. and march to City Hall. The People’s Power Assembly plans a protest at the Inner Harbor at 5 p.m.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she is “sickened and heartbroken” over the charges against the officers, five of whom are already in custody.

“No one in our city is above the law,” she said. “Justice must apply to all of us equally.”

The Fraternal Order of Police represents its members. Of course it would try to claim a conflict of interest on the part of the prosecutor and to seek any advantage in representing its members. But State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby comes from a long line of cops herself. Freddie Gray prosecutor from family steeped in policing:

State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who this morning announced charges in the prosecution of the Baltimore police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, comes from a family steeped in law enforcement — a connection she pointedly mentioned in her news conference.

But the 35-year-old prosecutor also pledged during her 2014 campaign to prosecute officers when needed, saying, “No one is above the law.”

* * *

Mosby’s decision came as Baltimore is still recovering from riots and under a curfew — and amid fears that her decision could trigger more violence.

* * *

“This is a lot of pressure,” Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes said. “The community is going to be really putting her to the test in terms of how she reacts and what her next steps are. I think the community has a lot of hope that she will do fairly by everybody.”

As one of the youngest African American prosecutors in the nation, Mosby has faced added pressure in a city boiling with police mistrust from the black community.

“When you’re an African American prosecutor you’re going to have the scrutiny of your own people who will say, ‘Now that you made it, what are you going to do?'” said Melba V. Pearson, president of the National Black Prosecutors Association. “And you’re going to have law enforcement saying, ‘Whose side are you on?’

“That’s the challenge of being an African American prosecutor,” added Melba, a prosecutor in Miami-Dade County, Fla. “You walk a very fine line.”

Mosby declined to comment for this article.

But she spoke about just this scenario when she was campaigning in 2014, providing some insight into what to expect.

“I come from five generations of police officers,” Mosby said on the Clarence M. Mitchell IV radio show. “I know the sacrifices police officers make day in and day out away from their families and risking their lives.”

She added that she would “absolutely” prosecute police officers when the facts warrant such action.

“I’m going to go after individuals whether you’re a police officer or a violent repeat offender. If you break the law and you believe you are above authority then I will go after you,” she said last year.

* * *

During her campaign radio interview she provided additional information about how she would handle a police investigation.

“Once that investigation is completed that information will be turned over to me,” she said. “I will also have a civilian review panel. They will have the same information. They will make a recommendation to me. I will then assess that recommendation. And if I believe we should be pursuing a police officer, I will indict that police officer and put it in front of grand jury.”

But it is unclear what she meant by a civilian review panel and whether she followed that process in the Gray case. Her office declined to comment on the matter.

* * *

Most observers did not see any conflict in Mosby handling the Gray case. Though Murphy donated to her campaign, the FOP also donated to Mosby.

* * *

In a statement, Mosby said the Gray case doesn’t pose any conflicts for her.

“State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has been elected by the residents in Baltimore City to uphold the law in every neighborhood including her own, regardless of if her husband is the councilman within the district where numerous crimes occur,” said spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie. “Hundreds of people donated to her campaign. There is no conflict of interest surrounding Billy Murphy. He is representing the family in a civil case which has nothing to do with the criminal case.”

Note: The Baltimore Sun uses narrative reporting, so the above reports are very long with much more detail. I have tried to give you the pertinent factual highlights.

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  1. It will be interesting to see if the protestors – and the media – are looking for justice, or for convictions. I was pleased to see that charges were filed because something bad happened while the man was in control of the officers and that it likely was criminal in nature. However, if the trial demonstrates some, or all of them, are not guilty, I will accept it as justice done. I will be surprised if that happens because the circumstances seem to scream malfescance.

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