Every week on Monday morning , the Council and our invited guests weigh in at the Watcher’s Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question: What’s Your Reaction To The Baltimore Police Being Criminally Charged?
Three days prior to the arrest of Mr. Gray, a memo was sent through the Baltimore City Police Department mandating that suspects being placed into the police van be placed in a seat and secured with a seat belt. Mr. Gray was simply lain on the floor of the vehicle. Mr. Gray continued to complain and act agitated while in the van. At some point, and perhaps twice, he requested medical aid, which requests were ignored. Within 30 minutes, Mr. Gray was taken from the van by paramedics where he expired a week later as the result of an 80% severing of his spine at the neck. There were no other injuries to Mr. Gray. As Bookworm Room has pointed out, there is some basis to suspect that Mr. Gray’s reported prior exposure to lead may have left him particularly vulnerable to the type of injury that caused his death.
On 1 May, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced that six Baltimore City Police officers have been arrested and charged in the death of Freddie Gray. Of the six officers, three are white, three are black, one is a woman. Two of the officers have been charged with crimes relating to wrongful arrest. Three others have additionally been charged with involuntary manslaughter. The driver of the police van has been charged with second degree murder.
So, on the facts above, what is my reaction to the police being criminally charged?
As a threshold matter, Freddie Gray deserves justice, period. That is beyond question. It will certainly mean civil damages for his death. Whether his death involved criminal wrongdoing such that others deserve punishment is a separate question. Equally, those involved in Freddie Gray’s death are entitled to justice. They need to be prosecuted to the degree to which they are culpable, and spared any punishment if they are not.
There is not enough information yet to say for certain if the ends of justice are being served by the arrests of these six officers. My initial reaction, and I dearly hope that I am wrong, is that a lot of this is nothing more than a sacrifice to the racial grievance industry. This is not a planted evidence case, nor a case of brutality by the arresting officers. If they wrongly arrested, that would, in the normal course, be a matter for internal discipline as well as open the officers up to civil suit. But now a wrongful arrest on these facts is being used, in at least three cases, to end careers and criminally prosecute police officers? It appears that all three of them are the white officers, by the way. That seems utterly outrageous just on the facts available. Indeed, it seems a lynching, no less than that which happened to Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson.
Likewise, charging three officers with involuntary manslaughter, just on the known facts and the lack of established policy regarding transport, seems as if it is quite a stretch. It is far less of a stretch to the extent the charge of involuntary manslaughter is based on failing to timely render aid, if such aid was requested and may have in fact saved Mr. Gray’s life. But it is not clear which evidence is being relied upon to support each charge against each individual.
Lastly, the driver of the police van, a black officer, has been charged with second degree murder. He, having sole custody of Mr. Gray from the time Mr. Gray was placed in the van until he was removed, injured, by paramedics, is likely at least guilty of involuntary manslaughter. That said, a charge of second degree murder, which requires some degree of intent or extreme recklessness, is likely an overcharge, just on the basis of the known facts.
So my reaction is mixed. At least one of the indictments – and perhaps as many as three – are or may well be warranted based on the available information. Several seem like nothing more than a lynching to satisfy the Al Sharpton wing of the left, who would dearly like to turn this into an indictment of racism and police brutality with which to, somehow, blame the right.
Baltimore City is a model of left wing urban governance and has been a social laboratory for nothing but left wing social policies for the past half century. The fact that Baltimore City, as well as its Police Department, are wholly owned subsidiaries of the left, and indeed, are led by minorities, is meaningless to the developing narrative. Already, Joan Walsh of Salon is tweeting that “there is no debate that tragically, black police officers often absorb the attitudes of their colleagues.” Shades of white Hispanics. The left will do anything to insure that whatever comes out of the Baltimore riots, it will not be a platform for rational discussion of the problems besetting Baltimore and inner city blacks. And if justice actually occurs in Baltimore — justice for Freddie Gray as well as the six officers — I am afraid it will be purely by accident.
JoshuaPundit : I’m sorry…it must be my depraved sense of humor but listening to Marilyn Mosby announce the charges as the crowd reacted like someone had just gifted them all with big screens made me laugh almost as much as the videos of ‘reporters’ getting beaten up and mugged and still describing their assailants as ‘protesters’ afterwards.
Mrs. Mosby is an elected official (as is her husband, Councilman Nick Mosby, who demanded the Baltimore PD ‘stand down’ as the rioting broke out) whose offices depend on the votes of a city that is 68% black whom mostly see this issue through a racial prism. Regardless of what color they are, the police, even black cops, are seen as the enemy. She wasn’t going to make the same mistake the mayor and president of the city council (both black) made of calling the rioters thugs and then having to grovel and walk back their statements. The video of Baltimore Council president Jack Young appearing with a herd of Bloods and Crips to apologize and refer to the rioters as ‘misdirected youth’ makes me chuckle just thinking about it.
The sad part is the jobs that will be lost, the houses that were burned and the long miles people who live in the neighborhood and were simply trying to work hard and keep things going will have to travel to buy groceries or find a pharmacy thanks to these ‘misdirected youth.’ And imagine trying to sell a house here and move to a better neighborhood now.
State Attorney Mosby referred to the arrest as ‘illegal’ and used the term ‘false imprisonment’ in her remarks. OK, but it seems to me that a number of the criminal charges involved are motivated by a political desire to appease the Mob and will be modified significantly later. And I understand that.
But what we have here, not to be harsh, was a career criminal whose rap sheet included multiple arrests for things like burglary, assault and lots and lots of drug trafficking arrests. As a matter of fact, Mr.Gray had an upcoming trial coming up this month based on a December arrest for selling narcotics. He was a known drug dealer talking to someone on the streets in a fairly crime ridden area when he saw the police and took off running.
Chances are he was pursing his chosen career and realized that a fresh bust could affect his out on bail status, his coming trial and his chances of a plea bargain, so he simply went to try and dispose of his stash before he was caught. Given his reputation, there was definite probable cause and since Baltimore, like many jurisdictions allows suspects to be held 72 hours before being charged, I can’t see his his arrest as illegal since he could have been interrogated and the area could have been searched while he was in custody.
The main thing the police seem to be guilty of at this point is not securing Gray in a seat belt in accordance with a general order that came out 3 days before the incident, and maybe with getting him a medic in a timely manner. That could certainly be called that negligence, but murder two? Among other things, the prosecutor will have to figure out some way to establish intent for that to stick.
Of course, if the trial’s held in Baltimore, the jury will be composed of those ‘protesters’ and their allies and will likely resemble a carbon copy of some of the old Jim Crow jurisprudence we keep hearing about. Or if it’s held elsewhere and some or all of the police are acquitted, it can be used as more fuel for Seething Racial Grievance. So it’s a win-win either way if you take my meaning.
The Glittering Eye : think there’s been a rush to judgment. I understand the states attorney’s motives but whether because she’s inexperienced or ambitious or for whatever reason the theory of the case one would take from her public statements have painted her into a corner that will make it difficult to obtain convictions, particularly on the more serious charges. Note how many of the legal experts have pointed that out.
On the broader question the lynch mob mentality that has set in , not merely on the part of the demonstrators and rioters but on the part of the media and public officials is deeply concerning. We can only imagine the reaction that will occur if these officers are acquitted. That shouldn’t be the case. The presumption of innocence should always be paramount.
I don’t know what happened to Freddie Gray but neither do the demonstrators or the states attorney. We need to keep an open mind until we hear statements made under oath and read official statements on the forensic evidence. I’m beginning to fear for the republic.
Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason : Maryland State Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25 year old black man who died, apparently after suffering lethal injuries while in their custody.
Her announcement came after a night of rioting, looting and violence that left the city reeling and seething in racial anger for several days. It appears to have been a rush to judgment on her part to alleviate the demands of the mob.
In a city with a large black population, black female mayor, and black prosecutor it kind of rings hollow to allege systemic racism is to blame. We should be looking at the Democratic social policies that have run the city for nearly half a century.
When a society makes it easier for people to live on welfare, food stamps and cheap housing than strive to better themselves, the result is another generation of Democrat voters to keep the free stuff coming. The left cries for more money, that not enough funds are going to help the poor. Baltimore has one of the highest amounts of education funding per child in the country. More money does not equate with a good education. No amount of money will help the people living in the poor neighborhoods in Baltimore, or any city for that matter.
This is not systemic racism. What we are seeing is systemic destruction of the family. The left is bent on destroying America by attacking traditional values, instilling feelings of entitlement for perceived grievances, withholding valuable education children need to better themselves, and making them believe they are victims in a country where opportunities do not exist for them.
As we have seen so many times before, it may just come out that the police are found innocent of the charges. What then? The left will never permit a real discussion on the issues facing poor black families in America. In reality, they are slaves to a system created to maintain and grow the power of the left.
GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD : Marilyn Mosby delivered a clear message when she stepped in front of the cameras to announce charges against six Baltimore police officers at a surprisingly early stage in the investigation.
Mosby deftly framed the serious charges leveled against the officers in a seemingly political context. On one hand, she promised Freddie Gray’s family that she would fight ceaselessly to bring about justice in the case. At the same time, she made it clear that she is not the avenging angel of the African-American community. As in every constitutional democracy, one is considered innocent until proven guilty in the USA.
Well, there you have it.
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