One of Maryland state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby’s first acts in office was to dismiss charges against a police officer accused of animal cruelty in the death of a 7-year-old dog named Nala.
Though Mosby is accused of overcharging six Baltimore cops in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, the cop accused of unjustly killing Nala had an ace in the hole: Billy Murphy Jr., a famed Baltimore attorney and Mosby political ally.
Mosby’s and Murphy’s political relationship is the subject of two motions for dismissal and recusal filed in Baltimore this week. The motions seek to establish that Mosby has engaged in a pattern of political favoritism towards Murphy Jr. who had donated $5,000 to Mosby’s state’s attorney campaign and was appointed to her transition committee.
A motion to dismiss filed Thursday asserts that on Jan. 8 — Mosby’s first day in office — she dropped animal cruelty charges against Officer Stephen Schmidt, who was a client of Murphy Jr.’s.
On June 14, 2014, Schmidt and another officer, Jeffrey Bolger, responded to a call about a stray dog that had reportedly bitten a pregnant woman. Using a pole, Schmidt lassoed the dog, a Shar-Pei named Nala. Bolger then used a knife to make an incision in the dog’s neck. According to his attorneys’ motion, he did so in order to prevent “prolonged suffering.”
Both officers were charged with animal cruelty as the case made national headlines.
But according to Bolger’s attorneys, the officer should not have been charged related to Nala’s death because Maryland state medical examiner David Fowler determined that she died from suffocation from Schmidt’s lasso, and not from Bolger’s incision. The motion also states that a veteran forensic pathologist made the same determination.
Though Schmidt’s charges were dropped, Bolger’s stuck, and his attorneys cried foul. They asserted that Mosby’s dismissal has the strong appearance of political favoritism for Murphy Jr.
“The public could easily conclude that the dismissal of the case against Officer Schmidt, at whose hands two experts will testify that the dog likely died while being strangulated on the dog pole, was a small favor for a political mentor,” the motion states.
“Did Ms. Mosby have such a keen interest in the death of a stray and vicious dog that she unilaterally made it a priority to evaluate the comparative merits of the case against the two charged police officers and decide to dismiss just one of them on her very first day in office?” Bolger’s attorneys ask.
The dog case was cited in another motion filed Friday by attorneys for the six officers charged in relation to Gray’s April 12 arrest and April 19 death. (RELATED: Baltimore Cops File Motion To Dismiss In Freddie Gray Case)
In a fiery and politically-charged announcement last week, Mosby said the officers arrested Gray illegally and failed to provide him proper care and medical attention.
The officers’ attorneys point to the dog case, claiming it establishes an “unfair and undeniable intertwined relationship by Mrs. Mosby and Mr. Murphy.”
“The same reasoning applies with even greater force to the instant case,” the lawyers claim.
The attorneys argue that Murphy Jr. stands to gain financially if the police officers are found guilty of any charges they are facing.
“Mr. Murphy has a substantial financial interest in the outcome of any criminal case against these six police officers, as any guilty finding will improve his position in any potential civil suit against the city of Baltimore and its police department,” the motion reads, also noting that Murphy Jr. has appeared on national TV numerous times to discuss the Gray case and that he and the Gray family have personally met with Mosby.
Mosby’s relationship with Murphy Jr. is not the only conflict of interest dogging her as the Gray case presses forward. Mosby’s husband, Nick Mosby, is a city councilman who represents the district where Gray was arrested and where most of the rioting occurred last month.
Another apparent conflict came to light involving Janice Bledsoe, one of Mosby’s top investigators. Bledsoe is dating Jayne Miller, a veteran reporter with WBAL who landed a bombshell interview with Donta Allen, a major witness in the Gray case.