The trials for the six Baltimore police officers charged in the Freddie Gray case will remain in Baltimore, Judge Barry Williams ruled Thursday.
Attorneys for the six cops had argued they would not receive a fair trial in the city because of public statements made by prosecutors and because of the city’s decision this week to pay Gray’s family a massive $6.4 million settlement.
The officers face charges ranging from misconduct to manslaughter to second-degree depraved-heart murder for their roles in Gray’s April 12 arrest and his death a week later. Prosecutors allege that the officers illegally arrested Gray and then did not do enough to provide him with medical care when he sustained a head injury while riding in the back of a police van following the arrest.
“The citizens of Baltimore are not monolithic,” Williams said Thursday, in shooting down the officers’ change of venue request. “They think for themselves.”
He said that he did not believe that media attention or the prospects of riots warrants a change of venue. Last week, Williams ordered six separate trials for the officers. He also denied a defense motion to remove state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby from the case. Defense attorneys asserted that Mosby has showed bias in her public comments about the case.
The attorney for Gray’s family donated to Mosby’s political campaign and served on her election transition committee.
Many believed that the city’s surprise decision to settle with Gray’s family would warrant a change of venue. The settlement was reached even before the Gray family filed suit. It is also unusual for a municipality to settle a police brutality case before a criminal conviction.
Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said that the settlement was not related to the criminal case against the officers. She said that the settlement was the “right fiscal decision” for the city and that it was intended to “prevent harm to the community.” (RELATED: Baltimore Mayor: Freddie Gray Settlement Will Prevent ‘Harm To The Community’)
The settlement was reached despite allegations that Gray had previously engaged in “crash-for-cash” scams. Defense attorneys have alleged that prosecutors withheld evidence that Gray was known to have faked injury in order to obtain cash settlements. The defense has asserted that Gray may have intended to injure himself following his arrest. He died as the result of a head injury, a medical examiner determined. (RELATED: Baltimore Cops’ Attorneys Say Prosecutors Withheld Evidence Of Freddie Gray ‘Crash-For-Cash’ Scams)