My View: Baltimore Prosecutor Makes Quick Call, She Better Hope It’s the Right One

Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore state's attorney, speaks during a media availability, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody.   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore City state’s attorney, speaks during a media availability, Friday, May 1, 2015 in Baltimore. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six officers suspended after Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As all the trouble was unfolding in Baltimore, San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi held his annual Justice Summit, and already the theme was on point – “Race and Reform.” Naturally, the speakers focused on San Francisco’s own scandals – the text messaging, DNA lab, and sheriff’s department – but also the overall issue of race and policing.

On the other side of the country from Baltimore, San Francisco DA George Gascon came forward with a solution that would have helped resolve the problems in Baltimore – if not prevent them in the first place. The DA not only called for body cameras on police officers, but also a requirement that all arrests be accompanied by video.

As he pointed out, sure, there may be times when technical problems occur, but those will be rare. And if you have a suspicious arrest with no video, a prosecutor is going to naturally view that arrest with a great deal of suspicion.

That would have come in handy because, while we have some video of the Baltimore police placing Freddie Gray into the police van on April 12, we do not have footage of before and after. And really, in this day and age, there is no excuse for any of that.

On Friday, the state’s attorney for the city of Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby, filed charges against six officers. Some will say this was a political move to calm down the city – and perhaps it was. However, she has great incentive to get this one right, because if they cannot substantiate the charges – including second degree murder, her career will be in jeopardy – just ask Michael Nifong, from the Duke University lacrosse case.

The officers who were arrested included a lieutenant of 17 years, several near-rookies and a woman who was promoted to sergeant. Three were white and three were black. More on that at a future point.

The most serious charges were brought against Officer Caesar Goodson, who drove the van that carried Mr. Gray to the police station the day in question. Along with involuntary manslaughter, Officer Goodson was charged with “second-degree depraved heart murder,” which means indifference to human life.

The key thing – at least to me – was the point that Ms. Mosby made that this was in fact an illegal arrest. She said, the officers “illegally arrested Mr. Gray.” The officers who arrested him “failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray’s arrest, as no crime had been committed,” she said. Contrary to reports that he carried a switchblade, Ms. Mosby explained, “The knife was not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland law.”

Ms. Mosby said that Mr. Gray suffered a spinal injury during, rather than before, being arrested. “Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside the B.P.D. wagon,” she said.

There is speculation that Mr. Gray was intentionally given a “rough ride” – meaning the driver maneuvered the vehicle in a way to intentionally slam him against the metal sides of the vehicle. Ms. Mosby did not refer to that in the press conference.

She did say that, as his condition deteriorated, the officers repeatedly ignored his pleas for medical attention and ignored signs of distress. Most pointedly, at one point, the officers found him unresponsive and yet took no action.

“The findings of our comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiner’s determination that Mr. Gray’s death was a homicide, which we received today, has led us to believe that we have probable cause to file criminal charges,” she said.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon calls for police body cameras and videos of arrest video.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon calls for police body cameras and videos of arrest video.

All week long there has been speculation about what transpired – in part because we did not have video of what occurred. There was a leaked report earlier this week that Mr. Gray may have intentionally tossed himself about the back of the police vehicle – however, the coroner’s report which has not been made public, points away from that explanation.

The talk now is about the possibility of a “rough ride.”

As the New York Times reported on Thursday, “The slang terms mask a dark tradition of police misconduct in which suspects, seated or lying face down and in handcuffs in the back of a police wagon, are jolted and battered by an intentionally rough and bumpy ride that can do as much damage as a police baton without an officer having to administer a blow.”

This has led “some to wonder whether he was deliberately left unbuckled, reminiscent of a practice that while little known has left a brutal, costly legacy of severe injuries and multimillion-dollar settlements throughout the country.”

“It’s sort of a retaliatory gesture,” said Robert W. Klotz, a police-procedures expert and former deputy chief of police of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington. “It’s one of those nebulous type of things where the individual feels they’ve been subjected to it because they’ve been mouthy. The officers say they have no intent in doing anything. It winds up in a he said-she said situation.”

Perhaps. But then again, what we have may be bad enough even if there was no rough ride. What we know certainly warrants the charges. First, police illegally arrested Mr. Gray. At some point we will get toxicology reports on whether Mr. Gray was on drugs at the time he took off running from police. But as we know, an individual who takes off running when there is no warrant, probable cause, or reasonable suspicion has committed no crime.

Second, we know that when he was arrested without having committed a crime, he was placed in custody without restraints to protect him. And third, we know that he was not given medical attention even when he was unresponsive.

If the prosecutor has the facts to prove that – then I think there is a pretty good case for indifference to human life. If the prosecutor cannot prove that, then she may well have seen the last of her career.

In the meantime, Mr. Gray’s case continues to fuel the debate over police practices and minor-police relations.

Some of the points made in San Francisco this week had a bearing on this matter, such as the notion that the restoration of trust in the community necessitates openness and transparency. The video footage proposal by Mr. Gascon hits exactly the right chord here.

“Transparency,” he said. “When we do things in the open everyone is protected, the community is protected, our police officers are protected.”

The idea of required body cams was suggested by the President’s Task Force. However, the idea, while generally supported, has been met with some skepticism about how the body cameras would be used, and particularly what would happen with the footage.

Mr. Gascon’s proposal solves that problem.

As the DA pointed out, technology allows us to do things that we could not have done ten years ago. He talked about the ability to collect large databases of video and be able to store them. Cameras, he said have been around for over 20 years in police departments, but storing the video represented a major problem. Cameras are getting smaller and we can now store huge amounts of information.

“Effective July 1 of 2016 I want every arrest conducted by San Francisco Police officer to be accompanied with video from that arrest,” he said. Mr. Gascon explained that not only would it facilitate the work of the prosecutor and defense attorneys in court, but it would foster further transparency with the public.

The technology to do that now exists and he asked for the funding to make sure that they have the technical support to handle that material. If video is not available, he said, “We want a supervisory explanation as to why not.”

He noted that there could be equipment malfunction but “that should happen very rarely.”

The key point, however, is this. Mr. Gascon stated, “I believe that the majority of police officers are honest, hardworking men and women and this is something that they would welcome because it protects them as well as it protects the public.”

And this is the point that I think defenders of the police miss most often – if you have a small number of problem police officers, but allow them to continue to cause problems, you undermine the credibility and trust of all of the good men and women who serve.

When good officers turn their backs on the misconduct of the bad officers, good officers become accomplices. The crime in Baltimore was not simply the work of one police officer who exercised horrendous judgment, it was made possible by the other officers neither stopping him nor coming forward to authorities.

Finally, earlier this week, we ran the article on violence as a tactic. A lot of people missed the point of that column. It was not to defend rioting, rather it was to point out the political powerlessness of people to effect change and the fact that no one really cared about this incident until riots broke out.

If people abhor violence as they say, they need to resolve these problems before they devolve into rioting.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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80 Comments

  1. zaqzaq

    Freddie Gray was in a high crime area known for drug dealing.  He made eye contact with the officer and then ran away.  I did a google search for “when is running from police probable cause for arrest” and found this nugget.  In Wardlow, the Supreme Court held officers had reasonable suspicion of criminal activity based solely on presence in a high-crime area combined with “headlong flight” from police. Wardlow, 528 U.S. at 124. [viii] 

    The articles went on to explain that the officers only need a “reasonable suspicion”  to detain someone and they can also do a search for weapons during this detention.

    It is my understanding that the knife is a spring assisted opening knife.   Once the blade opens somewhere less than a quarter of the way the spring pushes it open the rest of the way.  I am not sure why it would not fit the description below which is the relevant Baltimore city code.  It looks like she may very well be wrong on this point.  There is one report out that the officers observed a hand to hand sale that Freddie Gray was involved in and he ran.  The officers did not recover any contraband so did not include that information in their reports.  They made the arrest when the found the knife.  If any of the officers had prior contact with Freddie and knew his history (drug dealing) that would seem to further bolster their decision to detain him.  It does not appear as clear cut as Ms. Mosby proclaimed in her speech yesterday.  I suspect that any decent defense attorney, even a public defender, would be able to raise these points.  If this information is correct then Ms. Mosby will have some real challenges in her prosecution.  The new seatbelt rule went into effect about nine days before the incident.  I wonder if they will be able to prove that all or any of the officers were informed of this change.  If they just sent out a large policy manual with out somehow placing emphasis on this particular change.  I also wonder if the Baltimore police had a practice of not restraining difficult or combative prisoners for officer safety reasons that was the common practice in that department.

    One segment of the Baltimore population was celebrating in the streets after Ms. Mosby’s announcement.  Her decision may reduce tensions in Baltimore in the short term but I wonder what will happen if she starts losing in court.

    It also appears that she is prosecuting some of the officers for allegedly getting it wrong in the detention and arrest of Gray.  That is problematic since the police officers do not always get it right when making detentions and arrests.  Davis has reported on a number of cases where judges have ruled against the police on these issues.  The Mosby standard would have the DA charging cops every time they get it wrong.  This is truly problematic.
    § 59-22 Switch-blade knives.
    (a) Possession or sale, etc., prohibited.

    It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, carry, or possess any knife with an automatic spring or other device for 
    opening and/or closing the blade, commonly known as a switch-blade knife.(b) Penalties.Any person violating the provisions of this section, shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than $500 or be imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both, in the discretion of the court.(City Code, 1950, art. 24, §155; 1966, art. 19, §160; 1976/83, art. 19, §185.) (Ord. 44-057.)

    1. PhilColeman

      Allowing for some assumptions made (and noted as same) this is a compelling argument countering the claims of the Attorney General. You should receive at least $1,000 in “fees for services rendered” for any attorney representing the arresting officers. In my mind, there is no question that the suspect/victim was lawfully detained. The legality of the knife possession is the biggest issue for me.

       

      1. David Greenwald

        Detained or arrested?

        That said, even if they did lawfully arrest Mr. Gray, the conduct of what happened next is what is in question.

        1. zaqzaq

          David you are just plain wrong on that point as it applies to all six officers.  Two of the officers (Miller and Nero) are not charged with the death of Gray.  They are charged with Assault (2 counts), Misconduct in Office (2 counts) and False Imprisonment.  They are NOT charged with murder or involuntary manslaughter.  The charges are a direct result of the detention and subsequent arrest that resulted with Gray being placed in the paddy wagon.

          Mosby’s theory of the case seems to be that the detention and arrest were illegal and thus any use of force by the officers is illegal to include the handcuffing and/or leg irons that were placed on Gray at the first stop.

          The False Imprisonment is a result of the alleged illegal arrest that resulted in Gray being handcuffed and placed in the paddy wagon against his will

          The first Assault charge appears to be due to the initial detention and arrest where Gray was held on the ground and handcuffed.

          The second Assault charge appears to be when Gray was removed from the paddy wagon the first time and leg restraints were added and he was placed back in the paddy wagon.

          I am not sure if the two Misconduct in Office charges are based on the alleged illegal detention and subsequent arrest or to the two instances where Gray was placed into the paddy wagon without a seat belt.

          These officers did not see Gray again after the leg restraints were applied so all of their charges must be based on the detention, arrest, and placement into the paddy wagon.

          As I previously noted there is a United States Supreme Court decision in Wardlow that flight in a high crime area constitutes a reasonable suspicion for the detention.  The spring assisted knife found on Gray formed the basis for the arrest.  At some point a judge will have to decide if a spring assisted knife is illegal.  If it is illegal it looks like the case is done.

        2. Davis Progressive

          “If it is illegal it looks like the case is done.”

          how so?  maybe against the officers not implicated directly in murder, but the murder charge is based on other factors.

        3. zaqzaq

          DP,

          Miller and Nero were the two officers not charged with manslaughter or murder.  My post clearly relates to those two officers.  The charges against them are ludicrous.  The Mosby standard would result in all officers who make a  detention and or an arrest and a DA or judge later determines they are wrong would end up being charged with false imprisonment.  If you extend the logic further it would apply to DAs who charge cases based on illegal detention and/or arrest that results in incarceration.  Going even further you would have to charge a judge who denies the suppression motion only to get overturned on appeal.  This Mosby logic has a chilling effect on law enforcement.  If the officer has a good faith belief that the detention and arrest are valid they should not later be charged with a crime if a judge or DA determines the officer was wrong.  Cases get dismissed based on illegal detentions all over the country.  That is why we have a court system to see if the cops got it right.  The charges against these two officers make no sense.  Charging the officers with a crime because no seat belt was but on a prisoner goes off the deep end.  That should be handled as a job disciplinary action.  Not a crime.

        4. Davis Progressive

          ” My post clearly relates to those two officers”

          your post starts referring to those two officers, i was unclear that it ended that way.  thanks for clarifying.

          “Charging the officers with a crime because no seat belt was but on a prisoner goes off the deep end. ”

          i think it’s the totality of the circumstances here – not just the failure to seatbelt but the failure to get medical attention especially when he’s unresponsive.  the piece missing if whether they tried to give him a rough ride.

        5. zaqzaq

          DP,

          Miller and Nero were not there when he was unresponsive.  They were only present for the first stop when the leg restraints were put on.  He was responsive at that time.  Looking at the totality of the circumstances Miller and Nero legally detain Gray and then place him under arrest for the knife.  The legality of the knife is not clear.  They handcuff him and place him in the paddy wagon.  They are called back to the paddy wagon and put leg restraints on him.  He is responsive and probably did something to cause the officers to put on the leg restraints.  There are a number of stops later that Nero and Miller are not involved in.  He was responsive the last time they saw him.  These is no evidence that the ignored him when he was not responsive.  They were the junior officers present for the detention, arrest and placement into the paddy wagon.  These charges are bogus against these two officers based on the totality of the circumstances.  She overreached in charging these officers and will probably not get a holding order in a preliminary hearing, especially if the judge rules that the knife is illegal.

    2. Tia Will

      zaqzaq

      Nice fact finding. However, I take exception to one of your assertions.

      The Mosby standard would have the DA charging cops every time they get it wrong.”

      No, the “Mosby standard” would have the DA charging cops every time the suspect ends up dead from neglect in their custody.

      1. zaqzaq

        The false imprisonment charge and assault charge on the officers making the arrest is based on her finding that they illegally detained and arrested the officers.  It is problematic to only charge officers when the suspect subsequently dies.  A prosecutor should be consistent when charging people with crimes.  That includes police officers.  My point is that she overreached by claiming that the detention and arrest were illegal.  You need to distinguish between the homicide charges and the ones relating to the arrest.  A death due to neglect after a legal arrest may still be a crime.

        1. Davis Progressive

          ”  It is problematic to only charge officers when the suspect subsequently dies.  A prosecutor should be consistent when charging people with crimes.  That includes police officers”

          i agree with your point but then again, i believe too often prosecutors fail to charge police for conduct committed on duty anyway.  i think officers should be held accountable more often for misconduct.

  2. PhilColeman

    ““second-degree depraved heart murder,”

    Now there is a phrase that might have been concocted by a bodice-ripper novelist. The rough translation in California penal law would be Negligent Homicide. Generally, the term “negligence” is reserved for civil law, and a prime ingredient in most civil law suits filed. But when negligence results in the death of a person, a felony charge is suitable according to our state legislatures and English Common Law.

    If California law even roughly equates to Maryland law, the stated criminal charges filed against the Baltimore officers appear to be unsupportable in subsequent legal proceedings. I feel genuinely sorry for the Maryland Attorney General. She is in way over her head. Some of the worst days in her life await her, personally, and more importantly, professionally. Look for her to be in private practice within a couple of years. Another unfortunate casualty in this entire mess.

    The “rough ride” police folklore is based on historical fact. It did occur occasionally, as retribution for any prisoner indiscretion as determined by the driving police officer. I first heard the term in 1964, and it was decades old then. While I worked a paddy wagon numerous times, I can say under oath that I never once did it. Nor did I ever see, or even hear of, a contemporary account of a rough ride being administered. But it remains a hell of a tale to tell when you are trying to stay awake at 3 AM.

    While we are on the topic of sordid police practices (and in the spirit of “full transparency”), there is a powerful built-in deterrent to rough rides, more powerful than applicable law.

    The intent of a rough ride is to cause injury to the poor guy in the back. No jail admittance officer will ever accept an injured prisoner into the jail without medical clearance. Instead, the transporting officer has to first take the injured prisoner to a designated hospital for examination and treatment. There is no greater fear by a street cop than to have to do more paperwork or to just sit. Hospital admittance paperwork has to be completed, and the custodial officers have to sit in a waiting room for a usually long time before the prisoner/patient is seen by a physician.

    1. David Greenwald

      This is the same issue – sort of – that came up during the Gonzales vehicular homicide trial.

      Second-degree murder is defined “as an intentional killing that was not premeditated.”

      Under California law the prosecutor has to show the conduct reflects an “abandoned and malignant heart.” “Implied malice may arise if the defendant meant to create the circumstances that resulted in the killing of another person. When a criminal case lacks malice, the prosecutor will likely need to pursue manslaughter charges instead of murder charges.”

      “Abandoned and malignant heart” is not that dissimilar to “depraved heart murder.”

  3. zaqzaq

    David wrote,
    “What we know certainly warrants the charges. First, police illegally arrested Mr. Gray. At some point we will get toxicology reports on whether Mr. Gray was on drugs at the time he took off running from police. But as we know, an individual who takes off running when there is no warrant, probable cause, or reasonable suspicion has committed no crime.
    Second, we know that when he was arrested without having committed a crime, he was placed in custody without restraints to protect him. And third, we know that he was not given medical attention even when he was unresponsive.”
    My earlier post would seem to refute David’s conclusion on the first two points and addresses issues with the third point.  I also wonder how many suspects make fake claims of medical issues when arrested.  This practice forces cops to play doctor.  If I were a cop in Baltimore I would now call for medical support in every case where the allegation is made, even if I knew it was a false allegation.  This would become costly and tie up police resources.  It would get really interesting if officers were then reprimanded for calling for medical aid for the faked incidents.
    It looks like Phil has experience as a police officer. I wonder what he thinks about the detention and arrest?

    1. Tia Will

      zaqzaq

       I also wonder how many suspects make fake claims of medical issues when arrested.  This practice forces cops to play doctor. “

      This is both irrelevant and in error. The irrelevance pertains since it hardly matters how many people you have had beg you for medical help if you miss the one that has the actual urgent need and ends up dead.  Second police are not asked to play doctor. They are asked to seek medical attention. That involves transport, not medical judgment.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          I thought the “ghetto the “ghetto lottery” is overstated? I know I worked at a store when young in an urban area, and we had people at least twice weekly fake a fall, and they always required that we call for an ambulance. The “smarter ones” brought a “witness”.

          The store later closed down due to high insurance costs.

  4. Barack Palin

    The Gray family lawyer, Billy Murphy, was a big campaign donor to Marilyn Mosby last year when she ran for State’s Attorney, donating the maximum individual amount allowed, $4,000, in June. Murphy was also on Mosby’s transition team after the election and has been described as a ‘mentor’ to her.

    How is this not a conflict of interest?  Can you imagine the uproar that would’ve occurred if the Ferguson DA Mcullough had been mentored and received donations from the Wilson family attorney?

     

    1. zaqzaq

      The bigger issue is her city councilman husband who is marching with protesters calling for “No justice, no peace”.  And then she incorporates it into her speech which gave out a lot of information.  Some are criticizing this as unethical.  That will be interesting to follow.  Also interesting is that she states that the injuries occurred inside the paddy wagon, not during the detention and arrest.  The public seems to believe that the injuries occurred during the detention and arrest.  She pinned herself down to one legal theory now.

      1. Barack Palin

        Yes, the political career of her Baltimore council member husband and the repercussions if no indictments were doled out is also an issue.

        1. hpierce

          The relationships have been disclosed.  That meets the legal standard for reporting.  The actions subsequently taken are subject to review, criticism, but the relationships are not inherently “conflicts of interest”.  If actions are taken based on knowledge, professional judgements, ethics, etc., irrespective of the relationships, no harm, no foul.

    2. Tia Will

      How is this not a conflict of interest? “

      I am not well versed in the concepts of “conflict of interest”. However,I can recall many posters on issues in the past noting that where there is no direct financial gain, there is no conflict of interest. The donation appears to have been made prior to this incident and I fail to see how a criminal charge would be affected in the case where the alleged crimes had not been committed until months after the election. I am not seeing what you are seeing as the potential for “financial gain” here. Please clarify.

      1. Barack Palin

        Really, you don’t see a conflict of interest when the Gray’s family lawyer donated the maximum to Mosby’s campaign, only a few months ago, and was considered Mosby’s mentor?

        1. Davis Progressive

          your comment is not very well considered.  prosecutors run for elective office.  they are often back by other attorneys.  the same is true for judges btw.  so last election, a number of public defenders, defense attorneys and prosecutors gave money and supported the campaign of judge beronio.  do you believe she should recuse herself every time one of those attorneys are before her?  including any time the prosecutor’s office has a case?

          in 2006, steve sabbidini supported jeff reisig for da.  does his office now have to be recused every time one of sabbidini’s clients have  a case?  that would be impractical.  you could also extend it to everyone who supports the attorney general.  heck if you were a public defender’s office, all you have to do is support the da and the ag’s office and no one could prosecute cases.

          obviously i’m being absurd, but you get the point.  i hope.

           

        2. Barack Palin

          It wasn’t just the donation, the Gray family lawyer was Mosby’s “mentor”.  You don’t see a problem with that?  Other lawyers in Baltimore do.

          Veteran Baltimore defense attorney Warren Brown (pictured left) expressed concern that Mosby would be under insurmountable pressure to indict. Ivan Bates, a former prosecutor and a current defense attorney in Baltimore (right), also expressed concerns about Mosby’s links to Murphy

          http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3063807/Baltimores-prosecutor-faces-big-test-4-months-job.html

           

           

        3. hpierce

          Yeah, right.  The Gray’s family attorney anticipated these turns of events.  Now, if that attorney trebled their contributions in the next few months, or has promised to do so recently, you might have a point.  As it stands, “you got nothing”.  Chill.

        4. Davis Progressive

          it’s a strange issue for a lawyer to raise.  i’ve often faced past bosses, supporters, etc. in court. if a judge doesn’t have to recuse themselves, i fail to see this as an issue. but if you think it is – it goes very deep and you would have remove judges and prosecutors from being publicly elected.

        5. TrueBlueDevil

          Lots of conflicts. Hard for her to not throw the book at them and the garage sink when your hubby is on the city council from that neighborhood. She seemed nervous just reading her notes.

      2. hpierce

        Since I’m one of the one’s who have opined as to what is or not a “conflict of interest”, I’ll tell you it depends on laws that vary State to State, and has different contexts.  One could argue that no taxpaying legislator could ever vote to reduce taxes, as they would derive a financial benefit.  That’s not generally, ‘legally’ considered a conflict of interest.  What a legal “conflict of interest” is, DEPENDS on many factors.  That’s why many folks have to disclose their FINANCIAL interests, and act accordingly, subject to scrutiny by the public.  I know of no disclosure requirements for ‘political interests’.

      1. Davis Progressive

        he’s complaining about something that’s very widespread in the legal profession.  i’m fine with wholesale criticism if it’s acknowledged.  he’s pretending however that there is something unusual about this and there flat out isn’t.

        1. hpierce

          Of course they sent the letter… the unions will defend their folk ‘right or wrong’ and throw anything into the game to protect their “brothers” (note the word ‘fraternal’… not a coincidence).  Doesn’t mean it’s true/real.  Just throwing stuff to see what sticks.

          Hell, if an officer was caught on tape shooting a man in cold blood, the unions might well claim the footage was ‘doctored’.

        2. Barack Palin

          Oh excuse me, I guess the union wanting a fair trial and a an unconflicted prosecutor for six officers possibly facing big jail time is an outrageous request.

        3. Barack Palin

          BTW, DP.  Hello Mr./Mrs. anti prosecutor guy/girl,  since when do you start defending a prosecutor with possible conflict of interest issues?

        4. hpierce

          Admittedly, I had failed to read the text of the letter before posting my 9:57 post.  My bad.  The letter comes across respectfully, and reminds me of ‘Watergate’, when a special prosecutor was called for.  [I am NOT equating the two events, other than where a special prosecutor was ‘called for’].

          Given my read of the letter (thank you, by the way, for posting the link), even though I may not believe it’s warranted, I see much benefit to having a special prosecutor.  [Who would have to have how many degrees of separation from any ‘perceived’ special interests?].  It would, potentially, avoid substantiated allegations of cover-up or railroading.

        5. Davis Progressive

          i’m actually defending the legal system in general.  i think if you want to argue that this prosecutor has a conflict, that has much further ranging ramifications.  so far i have seen no acknowledgement from you on that point.

  5. Tia Will

    BP

    I have no idea whether or not the charges as brought by the AG are “correct” but I am seeing a rush to condemn her actions on what I see as spurious grounds.

    I feel that the political career of the AG and possibly also her husband are in jeopardy regardless of what route she chooses here. I have a great deal of empathy for the position she is in. Regardless of the stand she takes, this case is so toxic that her career hangs in the balance with vitriol from one side or the other regardless of what she does.

    I think that the best that we can wish for her, and all involved, is that they follow the evidence, the law and their own conscience. They will, of course,  have to deal with the consequences of these decisions.

    As for the idea that the AG is responsible for the decision of her husband to participate in a protest…. this is ridiculous. Do any of you assume direct responsibility for the actions of your spouse ?  Do any of you believe that her husband does not have the right to protest peacefully, even if others are committing violent acts ?

    And criticizing her for ” incorporating the phrase” “no justice, no peace” into her talk is quite disingenuous, since what you did not provide was the rest of the quote in which she said, paraphrased ” I am asking you to provide peace so that I can do my job to achieve justice. If you listened to this clip, it is perfectly clear that she is advocating for both peace and justice, not encouraging rioting.

      1. Frankly

        Nope.  It is DA overreach and risk-taking in pursuit of fame that can be leveraged for political power and monetary benefit.  That is what Mike Nifong did and his bet turned out to be a bad one.

        1. Davis Progressive

          what nifong did was outright prosecutorial misconduct which is why he got disbarred.  what you’re alleging here – which is shameful and unsubstantiated – is that the prosecutor overreached on the charges.  as we know from nifong, the prosecutor has a lot of stake if she got it wrong, but you have no evidence that she did.  you and bp are throwing random feces hoping something will stick.

        2. Frankly

          It was determined to be proprietorial misconduct in the end, but that is phase two in the process when a DA makes a risky bet on leveraging a media-circus case for political gain.  One it starts to unravel, the DA get’s desperate seeing his/her career flushing down the toilet.  After all, he/she may not get caught.

          It all starts with the case that provides them attention.

        3. Davis Progressive

          sorry that’s ridiculous.  i mean nifong had the crime lab withhold exculpatory evidence.  saying that she’s under-pressure and over-zealous is one thing, impugning her before the fact with that is irresponsible even as an anonymous person on a message board.

        4. Frankly

          We will see DP.  There were a lot of people, generally people holding to a left political worldview, saying similar things about Nifong early in that Duke Lacrosse “scandal”.  You might be held to having to do that thing you really dislike… admitting you were wrong.  How many people got caught up in the same with the Tawana Brawley scandal, the Duke Lacrosse rape case, the Trevon Martin case and the Michael Brown case.  There is still a lot about the Freddie Gray case that puts it in dangerous territory for a DA to come out so strongly against.   And this DA has a lot of conflict of interest surrounding her.

          I think you are hitching your wagon to a likely dangerous runaway horse.

        5. Davis Progressive

          the only thing i said is that you don’t have a basis for the nifong comparison.  we will have to see what evidence she has to convict the officers.  i do agree with you that people on the left got blinded on that case.  i wish conservatives would remember that because nifong’s actions really weren’t out of line with what we see from prosecutors regularly.  the difference was that the conservatives pushed the republican ag for the bush administration to do something.  some of the prosecutors in new orleans were far more egregious and yet none of them have been disbarred.

  6. Davis Progressive

    interesting from the washington post: What was fake on the Internet this week: Baltimore edition

     

    Freddie Gray did not have a “pre-existing spinal injury” at the time of his arrest. This stunning exclusive comes from our friends at The Fourth Estate, a right-wing blog. According to that blog’s “anonymous sources,” Gray had spinal surgery a week before his arrest, and his death was a “freak accident that occurred when Gray should have been home resting, not selling drugs.” For starters, there’s no evidence Gray was selling drugs: His charging documents indicate officers pursued him because he ran “unprovoked” and because he had a switchblade in his pocket. Meanwhile, attorneys for Gray’s family have denied that he had surgery, an allegation for which there’s also no evidence. It’s nonetheless been shared nearly 90,000 times on Facebook.

  7. Davis Progressive

    btw, on the report that gray was hurting himself:

    A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.

    The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him.

    that doesn’t seem to be strong evidence there.

    1. Barack Palin

      That prisoner has somewhat backed off of that claim, I’ll bet from the pressure of being a resident of baltimore and having to live there.  But what’s interesting is that same prisoner never said anything about having a rough ride.

  8. TrueBlueDevil

    Four possible new points.

    One, the officer who allegations are made that gave him the “rough ride” is African American, so this could I guess be considered black-on-black crime for the race conscious. One of the 2 ranking officers is also an African American female officer. … another officer is white, I’m unsure who outranks who.

    Second, it is also rumored that not only was the victim a small-time drug dealer, but that he was a snitch. So it’s possible they had motivation to bring him in to see if they could also glean more information about some other criminal activity, which seems to steer away from their supposed desire to do him harm in the van ride.

    I heard that some of these charges may be dismissed at a preliminary hearing down the road, others here are more knowledgeable on that step.

    Lastly, early this afternoon I watched part of a program on the status of Black Men in America on CSPAN. (This may not be the exact title, but close.) It was a refreshing, open, deep dialog with a number of knowledgeable individuals on the topic. A Harvard prof, a CUNY prof, an official from the White House who helps run the My Brothers Keeper program, and a few other researchers. There was a wealth of information on numerous topics, all of which are critical, important, and rarely discussed … and I don’t think the term racism was used once. I would urge anyone interested in the topic to search it out. Maybe it is view-able on CSPAN.com, or it may be replayed. Good references, good books, insightful commentary on difficult, complex problems.

    1. Tia Will

      TBD

      I don’t think the term racism was used once”

      It is you who are invoking the subject of “race” in your post by mentioning the race of the arresting officers and then deflecting by saying “so this could I guess be considered black-on-black crime for the race conscious”. It seems clear to me from this post that you should be included amongst those who are “race conscious”.

      From my point of view this is about excessive use of force, indifference to the physical well being of a suspect in custody, and negligence in the care of said individual. To me, it does not matter the race of the individual being neglected or the race of the individuals doing the neglect.

      Again, I speak only for myself. I am not defending the actions or words of anyone who sees this as primarily a racial issue. I call out violence and neglect for the individual actions that they are. I see them as based on the character of the individuals performing the acts, not the color of their skin.

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        It has been our president, attorney general, Al Sharpton, George Soros (funding), liberal so-called journalists media and bloggers, late-night liberal joke readers, and liberal groups who have beat us over the head with this for at least six years.  We didn’t have this constant drum beat under George Bush Jr., nor the number of riots. These kinds of charges popped up a few times under Clinton, but he didn’t ride the horse like Obama. There is no more diverse country anywhere, more diverse police force, political class or executive leadership. It is not the PM of France or the AG of Japan who are black.

        A mature individual would note that we have made huge progress in dropping crime statistics, which effectively means that hundreds of thousands of black men’s lives have been saved. The idea that white officers are driving around looking for black youth to rough up / murder is ridiculous; in fact, recent studies seem to show more actions taken against white suspects.

        What we get from the Left are newer versions of the Duke Lacrosse case or Tawana Brawley (Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown). This is a racial dog whistle. I’m sure right now we have bloggers dreaming up a way to spin the black officer allegedly mistreating the black victim as racist while concurrently ignoring the death of white suspects at the hands of black officers or citizens. Ignoring the Crips, Bloods, and Black Guerilla Mafia taking a leadership role in a failed Democratic experiment called Baltimore, Detroit, Philadelphia.

        I agree with you that we should attempt to minimize excessive use of force, but that doesn’t include Michael Brown scenarios. In CSPAN “Black Men in America”, one professor noted the high and disproportionate rate of violence within many black families and very early signs of behavioral problems in even the kindergarten years. Teachers, police officers, and social workers aren’t living in some bubble, they often are helping individuals with a variety of problems, and reciting the same tripe doesn’t further our understanding.

         

  9. bchaidez

    First and foremost. Politics carry no merit on the matters pertaining to Mr. Gray. Abuse under color of  law has become law enforcement’s tool to oppress the communities they have sworn to protect. In no way shape or form has society given law enforcement the discretion to undermine and sabotage the very principles established under rule of law. It is imperative to understand that minorities across america are judging their future on the past & present indignities that are unjustly enforced upon them. History has shown us that we are treated like second class citizens. Under rule of law, all people are to be afforded equal protection under the law. The time is now to hold those truths evident and afford all  their rights under law. Accountability under law is paramount to ensure law and order within our society. Society as a whole has an interest in honest and lawful policing.

    1. hpierce

      Except for what appears to be a ‘blanket’ statement, “Abuse under color of  law has become law enforcement’s tool to oppress the communities they have sworn to protect.”, I take no exception to what you posted.  But, ‘law enforcement’ is no more “monolithic” than any other profession/group.  In that statement, by extension, you imply that all followers of Islam equate to ISIS/ISIL/al Quaida, all Christians equate to Westboro Baptist Church, etc.

      If you had use a modifier in that sentence… well, I wouldn’t be responding.  Let’s not paint folk too broadly, for any reason.  We are individuals (except for uber- Republicans/Democrats… tongue only slightly in cheek).  All of the rest of your post is very worthy of thought and concern.  You diluted your good message with an ‘absolute’ assertion.  I hope you contribute again, but suggest you consider how you frame your posts.  BTW, I have failed to do so in my posts, from time to time, and it undermined my main points.

  10. tribeUSA

    One important part of the record that I haven’t seen referred to on this post:

    During the stop where the 2nd arrestee was put in the van, they checked on Gray and found him face down on the floor of the van. He complained of not being able to breath very well (and an ambulance was not called for at this point, despite this complaint.) The officer set him upright on the bench; but neglected to buckle him in!

    I find it highly surprising and strange that the driver/officer would not buckle him in after finding him face down on the floor of the van–this does take this from an understandable oversight to the realm of gross negligence; never mind that no ambulance was called even when he stated his difficulty in breathing.

    The time between this middle stop and the final stop (where he was found again face down on the floor of the van; but unconscious and unresponsive) was only 5-10 minutes; so perhaps this was not much time to give him a “rough ride” (the 2nd arrestee may be able to comment/testify on that); by getting the exact time and exact distance between the 2nd stop and final stop; should be able to work out mean speed and likelihood of a speedy “rough ride”.

    About the only strange action I’ve heard in all the evidence made public (and on the news media) in all this pursuit/arrest/transport episode is the failure of the van driver to secure Gray properly after the middle stop, after finding him face down on the floor of the van and with a breathing complaint!

    1. hpierce

      I do not mean this antagonistically, but your source?  I haven’t seen the details you mentioned in the media I’ve seen.  Not disputing, seeking info.

      1. tribeUSA

        It was a detailed news story from mainstream media–I skimmed thru a number of them online earlier today–I’ll try to backtrack and see if I can find the source.

  11. Miwok

    Cameras are getting smaller and we can now store huge amounts of information.

    This is a bit of an ignorant statement, and maybe deals with two issues in one sentence?

    Speaking as a Network Specialist with previous experience in High Tech Crimes, and DA Offices in several counties, I set up and spec’d requirements and trained people to deal with conversion to digital audio and video. The comment about Cameras getting smaller does not mean the files are smaller, and now with 4K video the files are starting to be huge. RAW DATA will have to be stored to verify the edited parts are not compromised. So that doubles the storage right there, and of course backups, so quadruple.

    Second, there are no people who are usually qualified or trained to deal with this nor the budget for equipment which approaches some networks in size and complexity, and as soon as every cop has a body cam, every car has a dash cam, and video from helicopters, drones, and the public in various formats, the cost will be incredible.

    Personally I liked training people to do it, because it saved them time preparing for court (discovery and etc) but when you have to propose a video for each arrest? It is like adding a new lab at the Crime Lab, where I also set up cameras for bullet comparison and software to store and track it.

    1. David Greenwald

      As I understood his statement, twenty years ago you had these huge cameras and the need to store videotapes (big) and then DVDs (small, but still big after time). Now you can store it on computers and clouds which do not take up physical space. Terabytes of data can now be stored with very little physical storage needs.

      1. Miwok

        I see what may have been meant by this. Thank you, David.

        Certainly a DVD or hard drive is physically smaller than a VHS Tape, but you may not realize the old 2 hour VHS tapes are equivalent to four of the average DVDs. Dual layer DVDs (an average movie) are now up to 25gb per unit. Hard drives in your average computer are a terabyte, sure, but how many of those, times how many hours of video, for how many officers, cars, drones etc? Plus storage and backups, and you have to create another infrastructure. Don’t think you can just order another SAN.

        Frankly (not you), I would love to help with these projects. It is my expertise. More average users with iMovie or Windows Movie Maker are getting more experienced all the time. I did this conversion stuff at the Sac DA years ago when they first had digital cameras.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          Can’t we store the video for 1 month or 3 months, and then if there are no complaints or issues, on 90 of 91 days, delete those days?

        2. Davis Progressive

          yes, you could probably have a system to purge records – it would have to be longer than 90 days because some cases the da has two years or three years to bring charges.  remember it’s not just complaints, it’s for all prosecutions.

  12. tribeUSA

    hp–found a detailed desciptive version of the events  in New York Times; It’s actually a more complex sequence than my above posting indicates; but salient factors (if accurate) do seem to indicate gross negligence: on at least one of the stops/inspections during which he was found on the floor of the van; the police seated him up on the bench but did not buckle him; the van drove off again and on the next stop he was found on the floor of the van again. Also possible negligence in not calling for an ambulance or driving him straight to ER after breathing complaints. When someone reports trouble breathing, particularly after a run & scuffle with several officers, should the possibility of injury not be taken seriously?

    Source
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/02/us/freddie-gray-autopsy-report-given-to-baltimore-prosecutors.html?_r=1
    An excerpt is below:
    …A few blocks later, he called a dispatcher to say that he needed help checking on his prisoner. Another officer arrived, and the back of the van was opened. “Mr. Gray at that time requested help and indicated that he could not breathe,” and asked twice for a medic, Ms. Mosby said. While the officers helped him onto the bench in the back of the van, she said, they still did not belt him in.
    While they were there, she said, a call went out for a van to pick up and transport another person who had been arrested. “Despite Mr. Gray’s obvious and recognized need for assistance, Officer Goodson, in a grossly negligent manner,” answered that call, rather than seeking medical help, Ms. Mosby said.
    At the van’s next stop, Officer Goodson met the officers who made the initial arrest, and a sergeant who had arrived on the scene. Opening the van once again, they “observed Mr. Gray unresponsive on the floor of the wagon,” Ms. Mosby said.
    The sergeant, she said, spoke to the back of Mr. Gray’s head, but he did not respond. “She made no effort to look, or assess, or determine his condition,” Ms. Mosby said.
    When the van finally arrived at the Western District police station and officers tried to remove him, “Mr. Gray was no longer breathing at all,” she said. A medic was summoned and found Mr. Gray in cardiac arrest. Then he was rushed to a hospital…
     

  13. TrueBlueDevil

    Another New York police officer shot in the face, now in critical condition. The suspect is in custody, Demetrius Blackwell. Because this is the topic of the moment, yes, the officer is white and the suspect is black. 

    This is potentially the 3rd execution of a NYPD officer in just the past few months, it seems like a dramatic spike.

  14. Barack Palin

    Alan Dershowitzreally went after Baltimore State’s AttorneyMarilyn Mosbytoday forcharging the six cops involved in the death of Freddie Gray, saying it was entirely based on politics and “crowd control.”
    Dershowitz lamented that “this is a very sad day for justice” and toldSteve Malzbergthat Mosby acted out of a “desire to prevent riots.” It will be “virtually impossible,” he predicted, for the six officers involved to get a fair trial.
    And as for murder charges, Dershowitz said there’s “no plausible, hypothetical, conceivable case for murder” and “this is a show trial.” He predicted that Mosby might get removed as prosecutor and Baltimore citizens may get upset if and/or when they “move to a place with a different demographic.”
    He concluded that it’s “unlikely they’ll get any convictions in this case” and if they do they’ll likely “be reversed on appeal.”

    http://www.mediaite.com/tv/alan-dershowitz-rips-charges-against-baltimore-cops-sad-day-for-justice/

  15. tribeUSA

    BP–good post, that is interesting. I thought Dershowitz used to be a darling of the left (I guess that is until he showed himself to be too impartial).

    I think your post is interesting in light of comments about you and TBD and Frankly that attempt to marginalize your viewpoints.

    My personal view on the Gray arrest, given the evidence made public that I’ve seen, is that there may be a case for negligence with regard to the police van transport, for not properly securing him (although the seat-belt regulation had been in effect for only 3 days prior to Gray’s arrest) and for not seeking immediate medical help (Do a lot of arrestees fake or falsely claim medical conditions during their transport? I really don’t know why else they wouldn’t get him quick medical aid, if the allegations that Gray said he had trouble breathing are accurate). I have yet to see any evidence for murder, though a lot of speculation.

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