The office of Baltimore City state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby has added a new wrinkle to the Freddie Gray case, alleging in a court filing that the 25-year-old was illegally arrested by Baltimore police officers even before they recovered a knife on his person.
In the motion, filed Monday, deputy state’s attorney Michael Schatzow rebuts a May 8 motion for dismissal and recusal filed by attorneys for the six officers charged in the case. Schatzow calls the attorneys’ claims that Mosby has numerous conflicts of interest “premature, frivolous, illogical.”
Schatzow also addressed Gray’s knife, which became a central part of the case when Mosby announced charges against the officers on May 1. Gray was arrested on April 12 and died a week later. His death was ruled a homicide, and he was determined to have sustained a broken neck while riding in the back of a police van. (RELATED: Baltimore Cops File Motion To Dismiss Freddie Gray Case)
During her press conference, Mosby stated that Gray was illegally arrested and that his knife was “legal under Maryland law.”
But in a May 8 motion for dismissal and recusal, attorneys for the officers disputed Mosby’s knife claim. They argued that while Gray’s “spring-action” knife was legal in Maryland, it was illegal in Baltimore.
In his response, Schatzow disputed the notion that Mosby argued that the legality of Gray’s arrest hinges on the knife.
Instead, he asserted that the statement of probable cause against the officers “makes clear that Mr. Gray was arrested well before the arresting officers knew he possessed a knife.”
“Mr. Gray was handcuffed at his surrendering location, moved a few feet away, and placed in a prone position with his arms handcuffed behind his back, all before the arresting officers found the knife,” Schatzow stated.
In the scathing rebuttal, Schatzow claimed that the attorneys’ motion “bounces from one ridiculous allegation to another, like a pinball on a machine far past ‘TILT.'”
In the May 8 motion, the officers’ attorneys argued that Mosby was biased against their clients because her husband, Nick Mosby, is a city councilman who represents the area where Gray was arrested and where riots occurred. The argument was that Nick Mosby would suffer politically if the officers were not charged in the case and that charges would help quash civil unrest in his district.
Schatzow called the accusation a “breath-taking non-sequitur.”
“If the Defendants’ conflict theory were accepted it would mean that the Baltimore city state’s Attorney’s office could prosecute no crimes in an entire Councilmanic [sic] District,” he stated.
Mosby should also recuse herself because of her political relationship with Billy Murphy Jr., the attorney for the Gray family, the officers’ attorneys asserted in their May 8 filing.
They pointed out that Murphy donated $4,000 to Mosby’s election campaign and served as one of 14 members of her transition team. The officers’ attorneys also argued that the Gray family’s civil case would be bolstered if the officers are convicted in criminal court.
“The notion that Mrs. Mosby would bring baseless criminal charges with the entire nation watching just so that Mr. Murphy might have some advantage in the civil case is ludicrous,” Schatzow wrote.
He argued that Murphy’s donation to Mosby’s campaign was only 1.3 percent of the total amount her campaign raised and that as a former Baltimore city circuit judge, Murphy “was a natural” fit for her transition team.
Regarding Mosby’s meeting with Murphy and the Gray family, Schatzow wrote that either she or one of her assistants “make every effort to meet with the family of all homicide victims.”
The attorneys also pointed out in their motion that one of Mosby’s first acts in office was to dismiss a case pending against one of Murphy’s clients. The defendant was a Baltimore police officer accused of animal cruelty in the death of a dog. Another city cop was charged as well, but only Murphy’s client saw charges dismissed.
Schatzow denied Mosby acted to help Murphy. He stated that the officer whose charges were dropped had agreed to cooperate against the other officer. He also claimed that the officer’s attorney was not Murphy, but a member of Murphy’s law firm.
Finally, Schatzow pushed back against the claim that Jayne Miller, a veteran reporter with WBAL, was leaked information about a key witness in the Gray case. Miller is in a relationship with Janice Bledsoe, an assistant state’s attorney involved in the investigation.
Miller interviewed the witness, 22-year-old Donta Allen, who rode in the police van with Gray. Schatzow called the assertion that Bledsoe leaked information to Miller a “lurid tall tale.” He stated that Allen was first interviewed by Michael Shuh, another Baltimore TV reporter.