I fully expected some kind of charges to filed against the police officers involved in the Freddie Gray death but I was astonished at the array thrown at them. All Chief Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby left out was a charge of littering.
•Officer Caeser B. Goodson, Jr. was charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of manslaughter by vehicle and misconduct in office.
•Officer William G. Porter was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
•Lt. Brian W. Rice was charged with involuntary manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and false imprisonment.
•Officer Edward M. Nero charged with two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and false imprisonment.
•Officer Garret Miller charged with two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and false imprisonment.
•Sgt. Alicia White involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Mosby called the arrest “illegal.” Over at Legal Insurrection Andrew Branca disagrees. Wait until you hear the argument about the difference between a switchblade and a spring-assisted knife.
And just after I wrote that, Andrew Branca dives into it. Mosby said the arrest is illegal because it was based on finding a knife on Freddie Gray. Mosby asserted that the knife was legal under Maryland law. However, as Branca points out, there are often differences between city and state regulations:
Indeed, the City of Baltimore has adopted as an ordinance its City Code §59-22, which states in relevant part:
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.
Thus (and again assuming Gray’s knife was spring-assisted, as widely reported), even if Mosby is correct (unlikely) that the knife was legal under Maryland state law, it would still arguably have been illegal under Baltimore code §59-22.
Freddie Gray had a long rap sheet.
•March 20, 2015: Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance
•March 13, 2015: Malicious destruction of property, second-degree assault
•January 20, 2015: Fourth-degree burglary, trespassing
•January 14, 2015: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute
•December 31, 2014: Possession of narcotics with intent to distribute
•December 14, 2014: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance
•August 31, 2014: Illegal gambling, trespassing
•January 25, 2014: Possession of marijuana
•September 28, 2013: Distribution of narcotics, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, second-degree assault, second-degree escape
•April 13, 2012: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, violation of probation
•July 16, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession with intent to distribute
•March 28, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance
•March 14, 2008: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to manufacture and distribute
•February 11, 2008: Unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance
•August 29, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, violation of probation
•August 28, 2007: Possession of marijuana
•August 23, 2007: False statement to a peace officer, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance
•July 16, 2007: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance (2 counts)
And then there are the charges leveled against the police officers themselves.
Second-degree murder is the killing of another person while acting with an extreme disregard for human life. In order to convict the defendant of second-degree murder, the State must prove:
(1) that the defendant caused the death of (name);
(2) that the defendant’s conduct created a very high risk to the life of (name); and
(3) that the defendant, conscious of such risk, acted with extreme disregard of the life-endangering consequences.
Involuntary manslaughter often refers to unintentional homicide from criminally negligent or reckless conduct. It can also refer to an unintentional killing through commission of a crime other than a felony.
The subtleties between murder and manslaughter reach their peak with involuntary manslaughter, particularly because an accidental killing through extreme recklessness can constitute second degree murder.
I’m not a lawyer but I think these are going to be a tough sell, both on their face and because of other complications. A couple of things Mosby said rang alarms in my head. First:
“I heard your call for ‘No justice, no peace.’”
And it seems Mosby answered that call rather than answer the call of justice.
“Your peace is severely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of Freddie Gray.”
Mosby sounds as if she has an agenda and I think I know what it is. Rather than getting “justice for Freddie Gray” Mosby should be seeking justice. Period.
Mosby promised transparency but then refused to release her evidence.
Mosby claims to have conducted her own probe of Freddie Gray’s death and has chosen to bypass the route of the grand jury and you have to wonder why. There are so many overreaching charges against these police officers. It has been suggested that Mosby did this in order to create a “circular firing squad” in hopes that the officers turn on one another. It has also been suggested that Mosby appears supremely confident in her ability to get convictions on all of the charges. Over at the WaPo it is suggested that the charges helped defuse tension in Baltimore. The animals have been fed and now are in postprandial calm.
Murder by (lack of) seatbelt
Mosby repeatedly referred to the lack of a seatbelt for Freddie but did not once speak of a “rough ride.” A mandatory seatbelt rule went into effect nine days before Freddie Gray’s arrest, but it is not known whether the BPD officers were aware of it.
A lawyer for the Baltimore Police Union denounced what he called “an egregious rush to judgment.”
Indeed. From Judge Alex Ferrer:
What Ms. Mosby presented was a strong argument for negligence, a civil wrong, or possibly the criminal charge of manslaughter if a jury agrees that failing to render aid when requested or failing to buckle Mr. Gray in to his seat amounts to gross or culpable negligence. But it doesn’t lay out a case of murder. Admittedly, she may not have disclosed all of the facts and may know details that warrant a murder charge, although it makes no sense that she would lay out incomplete facts to explain her case to the public since she expressly directed her comments to both citizens and police officers.
There are calls for Mosby to recuse herself from this case:
The open letter was posted to the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 3’s Twitter account minutes before the officers were charged.
Signed by the organization’s president, Gene Ryan, the letter read: ‘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.’
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.
That does raise eyebrows.
As three of the police officers are black, the myth of this event being racially motivated is out the window. Undeterred, Julie Linderman of the AP continues to promulgate the falsehood:
BALTIMORE (AP) — People seeking racial justice and rebuilding for Baltimore planned a day of prayer and healing, even as others chafed under a curfew set to expire early Monday. City leaders refused calls to lift the curfew following the city’s top prosecutor’s announcement that charges had been filed against six officers accused of fatally injuring a black man in police custody.
Not once in the article is the racial makeup of the six officers mentioned.
Marilyn Mosby is not seeking justice. She is acting as the attorney for the thugs in Baltimore and not all its people. I believe she is also seeking to be the symbolic Abraham Lincoln of the Justice system, endeavoring to free those enslaved by the police and police brutality. She is inexperienced and young and is reaching for the stars. Thing is, you get too close to the stars and you burn up.