Marilyn Mosby’s cases against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray has been by all accounts an utter failure, but the state’s attorney was nevertheless defiant on Wednesday when she announced her office is dropping charges against the three officers who still faced trial.
The 36-year-old Mosby, who became a media darling last year when she announced charges against the officers for the arrest and death of Gray, complained during a press conference that the deck was stacked against her and her team of prosecutors.
“While to this day we stand by the decisions, the legal theories, the charges, and assertions set forth in the statements of probable cause and during these proceedings, as officers of the court we must respect the verdicts rendered by the judge,” Mosby said in a fiery speech held at Gilmore Homes, near where Gray was arrested last April 12.
The 25-year-old Gray, who was black, died a week later. Mosby announced charges — including one second-degree murder charge and several manslaughter charges — against six officers (three of whom are black) involved in Gray’s arrest and transport on May 1 following days of rioting in Baltimore.
The three officers acquitted on all charges so far had elected bench trials in front of Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams. They include Ofc. Caesar Goodson, Jr. who was charged with second-degree depraved heart murder. He transported Gray to the hospital in a police van. Mosby asserted that Goodson and the other officers failed to properly secure Gray, who sustained a broken neck while riding in the van.
Williams also acquitted Ofc. Edward Nero and Lt. Brian Rice in a bench trial earlier this year. Ofc. William Porter elected a jury trial, which ended in a mistrial in December.
In her heated remarks, Mosby slammed members of the Baltimore police department investigative team. She also complained that prosecutors were not granted any say on whether the officers would be tried by a jury or by Williams, who is black.
“What we realized very early on in this case is that police investigating police…was problematic,” Mosby shouted.
“There was a reluctance and an obvious bias that was consistently exemplified, not by the entire Baltimore police department, but by individuals within the Baltimore police department at every stage of the investigation.”
She claimed that police investigators refused to conduct search warrants. Some conducted counter-investigations of their own, she alleged.
What she did not mention is that Williams faulted Mosby’s team for failing to turn over numerous pieces of evidence that supported the six defendants.
“We do not believe that Freddie Gray killed himself,” Mosby exclaimed during the presser. “We stand by the medical examiner’s determination that Freddie Gray’s death was a homicide.”
But she noted that in light of Williams’ consistent decisions to acquit the officer and given the likelihood that the three other officers would elect a bench trial, more acquittals were “unfortunately” in the offing.
“After much thought and prayer it has become clear to me that without being able to work with an independent investigatory agency from the very start, without having a say in the election of whether our cases proceed in front of a judge or a jury…we can try this case 100 times…and we would still end up with the same results,” she said.
“As prosecutors we are ministers of justice, and it is our ethical obligation to always seek justice over conviction. As prosecutors we do not determine guilt or innocence of individuals,” continued Mosby, whose husband Nick Mosby is a city councilman in the area where Gray was arrested.
Despite that claim, Mosby was accused by many last year of convicting the six officers in the court of public opinion with her courthouse speech announcing charges.
At one point in her presser on Wednesday Mosby asserted that her prosecutors nearly convicted Porter, the officer whose trial ended in a hung jury.
“And although we came close to convicting one of the officers when his case was tried before 12 Baltimore city residents, the judge has made it clear that he does not agree with the state’s theory of the case and does not believe that any of the actions or inactions of these officers rise to the level of criminality,” she said.
Porter was nearly acquitted of involuntary manslaughter, the toughest charge he faced. The jury broke 11-1 in favor of acquittal. Porter was nearly acquitted on assault charges as well. The jury voted 8-2 for acquittal with two jurors undecided.
Jurors split 10-1 on a charge of misconduct in office.