In a controversial move, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby dropped charges against Police Officer Garrett Miller, Police Sgt. Alicia White and Police Officer William Porter, the three remaining Baltimore officers accused in the arrest and death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.
The timing of the dismissals was surprising to medical professionals, lawyers and laymen alike who had theorized that Miller, the arresting officer and the next officer scheduled to stand trial, was the most likely to have caused Freddie Gray’s injuries.
As the trial for Miller was set to begin Wednesday, with a motion hearing regarding his immunity, the state dismissed his case.
Flanked by her prosecutors and Gray’s parents, Mosby gave a press conference in Baltimore’s Sandtown-Winchester section in front of the Gilmor Homes, a mural of Freddie Gray behind her, as she discussed the obstruction she faced from the Baltimore Police Department.
Mosby spoke sharply about individual Baltimore police officers she felt failed to cooperate: “We realized very early on that police investigating police, whether they were friends or colleagues, was problematic.” She went on to cite officers who she alleged acted as hostile witnesses and police investigators who were “uncooperative and started a counterinvestigation to disprove the state’s case.”
“We witnessed inherent bias, which is a direct result of what happens when police police themselves,” she told the crowd with a clipped tone as many people from the neighborhood who had gathered around clapped and chanted their support:
We’re with you!
We got your back!
You did the right thing!
They forced your hand!
Go ’head, Marilyn!
Mosby also issued broader indictments of a corrupt and crumbling system that’s in desperate need of reform.
“After much thought and prayer it has become clear to me, that without being able to work with an independent and investigative agency from the very start, without having a say in the election about whether our case proceeds before a judge or a jury, without communal oversight of policing in this community and without real substantive reforms to current criminal justice, we could try this case a hundred times, and cases just like it, and still end up with the same result,” she said to cheers.
After Mosby spoke, Gray’s stepfather, Richard Shipley, stood beside Gray’s mother, Gloria Darden. Darden was being encouraged by neighbor Gwen Taylor, who has lived in the neighborhood all of her life. “He did not die in vain, and God will always be with you all,” Taylor said gently as she looked at both Darden and Shipley.
“I pray that our city will stay quiet and we understand that things will not always go our way,” Taylor continued. “We will look to the Father. God will take care of all of them.”
“We were very pleased with Marilyn and all of her actions and her prosecutors, and we will stand by her,” Shipley told The Root. “We were disappointed with the outcome of our trials. We are going to see that new legislation is carried out and new laws will be made that will help the community and help other black communities. These laws will be made because of Freddie.”
On the other side of town at the Fraternal Order of Police headquarters in the city’s Hampden section on Buena Vista Avenue, the six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray were flanked by their lawyers, standing behind a podium.
Gene Ryan, the head of the FOP, addressed the crowd.
“We are pleased that the criminal charges have been dismissed, justice has been done,” said Ryan inside headquarters. “We will continue to support our officers during their administrative hearings and believe these good officers will be returned to fulfilling their duties with the Baltimore City Police Department,” he told a small crowd of reporters.
Neither Mosby nor the police officers were able to take questions. The officers are undergoing an administrative internal review during which they will be investigated by the Montgomery County and Howard County police departments of Maryland. And the officers have sued Mosby in a civil lawsuit alleging defamation and false arrest.
So How Did the Case Come Undone?
There are many who believe the problem started before the trials even began, with the medical examiner, Carol Allan, and her determination that Gray’s injury occurred in the police van at the fourth stop the officers made along the route to Central Booking.
This was a key part of the case, which forced prosecutors to prove criminal negligence in terms of a rough ride or failing to secure Gray in a seat belt, rather than focusing the case around whether Gray was injured before he entered the van and whether other officers were culpable in terms of causing further injuries.