Sunday, May 03, 2015

Baltimore Prosecutor Faces National History of Police Acquittals


With an unexpectedly speedy and sweeping announcement on Friday of charges against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, Baltimore’s chief prosecutor sent an unmistakable signal that the days when police misconduct drew a wrist slap are over.

It was a bold gesture, experts say — and a risky one. For the pledge may be an empty gesture unless prosecutors secure convictions in Mr. Gray’s death.

Both history and the circumstances of the case unveiled on Friday hint that it will be anything but easy. Brutality cases against police officers are notoriously difficult to win, and much about the case, including the evidence against the officers and their defense, remains unknown.

The state’s attorney for Baltimore City, Marilyn J. Mosby, is expected to seek an indictment, the next step toward a trial. Her chronology of Mr. Gray’s arrest on April 12 argued that he had been wrongly arrested, was placed inside a police van without being properly restrained by a seatbelt and, after suffering a severe spinal injury during transport, was repeatedly ignored despite pleading for medical help.

The six Baltimore Police Department officers face charges ranging from second-degree murder to manslaughter, assault, false imprisonment and misconduct in office. Ms. Mosby’s inquiry — “comprehensive, thorough and independent,” she said Friday — was completed in 18 days, less than a fourth of the time that Missouri prosecutors spent investigating the death of Michael Brown, which triggered riots and protests in Ferguson, Mo., last year.

(More here.)


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