Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby laid out confidently and clearly today that her office’s independent investigation of the death of Freddie Gray and the evidence submitted by the medical examiner, led her to conclude that Gray’s death was a homicide.
Mosby made the case that Gray had suffered a fatal spinal injury while being transported in a police van unsecured by seatbelts. “Mr. Gray suffered a critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside the BPD wagon,” Mosby said, referring to the police van.
Mosby further indicated that six officers involved in the illegal arrest of Gray would face charges for his death. The charges included murder and manslaughter in addition to lesser offenses of assault and false imprisonment.
Five of the six officers were reportedly arrested prior to Mosby’s speech, according to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. Rawlings-Blake quickly ordered the Baltimore Police Department to “immediately suspend” the six officers.
While Mosby’s press conference was factual and to the point for the most part, I take exception with one part of her speech. I believe that it is critical for her to understand the unintended impression she left on many because of the words she shared toward specific groups of individuals.
Near the end of her speech, Mosby appeared to forget that she was speaking on behalf of the city in her capacity as a state’s attorney.
What started out as a seemingly neutral statement of the facts on Gray’s case, ended up in what I believe was a lack of professionalism for a city official.
While some have described it as a “beautiful balance” between the righteous anger of the community and the necessary respect for law enforcement, I perceived it as “personal” opinion rather than a legal viewpoint given by a legal representative of Baltimore.
“To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America. I heard your call for “no justice, no peace.” Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man…,” said Mosby.
She then addressed her personal feelings about the police department in general and reminded everyone that she had come from “five generations of law enforcement.”
Then Mosby directed her comments toward the youth. Mosby said, “…To the youth of this city: I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a moment, this is your moment. Let’s ensure that we have peaceful and productive rallies that will develop structural and systematic changes for generations to come. You’re at the forefront of this cause. And as young people, our time is now.”
Mosby’s comments, during the final moments of her press conference, appear to primarily address a particular segment of the population of Baltimore rather than the “entire” community of Baltimore.
Other than her comments about the police department, many would rightfully interpret Mosby’s comments as being directed to predominantly African-American demonstrators, both inside and outside of her city and to mostly African-American youth.
Justice is blind in the American legal system and she is part of that system.
Her statement directed at the youth regarding “our time is now” amounted to turning an impartial legal process into an “us versus them” spectacle.
Not only is justice blind, but justice is for everyone. If justice is served then ALL of the “People” will be vindicated. The alleged crime that was committed against Gray was a crime against ALL of the people of Baltimore.
There are some who are already questioning whether Mosby should remain on this case.
The Baltimore chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, which is the officers’ union, called on Mosby to remove herself from the case and hand it over to a special prosecutor.
Gene Ryan, president of the union chapter argued that Mosby has a conflict of interest because she has been supported politically by William H. Murphy Jr., the lawyer for Mr. Gray’s family. Ryan also indicated that Mosby’s husband is a city councilman, and said his “political future will be directly impacted, for better or worse, by the outcome of your investigation.”
I for one expect Mosby to ensure, for all of the “People” of Baltimore, that justice is served by her. I also expect her to not exhibit partiality toward one group of people over another but to conduct this matter professionally and remain resolute in her role as a legal representative of Baltimore. Finally, I would call on her to hand this case over to another office for prosecution should there be a conflict of interest with her remaining on the case.
Fairness and impartiality should be the only focus in moving forward as this case proceeds through our legal system, in which justice is blind, the appearance of impropriety is absent, and defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
FOP: Our Officers Are Entitled To Due Process
Lt. Rice’s attorney and an Fraternal Order of Police member address the charges against officers in Freddie Gray’s death.
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