How can Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby try a case in which her own actions are part of the issue at trial?
While we don’t know yet how the trial will play out in the Freddie Gray death, recent news about a factor that might have led to the arrest of Freddie Gray is worth pondering.
As background, you may remember the claims that Freddie Gray should never have been arrested and that his knife was legal (the question of the legality of the knife is probably intentionally ambiguous).
According to the defense attorney, the police were especially focusing on the area where Freddie Gray was arrested. They were doing so because of community complaints about drug dealing. Those complaints did not come directly to the police department. Rather, they came through the prosecutor’s office of Marilyn Mosby who is now pressing charges against the police officers who allegedly killed him.
According to the Baltimore Sun, “Baltimore prosecutor asked police to target area where Freddie Gray was arrested.”
About three weeks before Freddie Gray was chased from a West Baltimore corner by three Baltimore police officers — the start of a fatal encounter — the office of prosecutor Marilyn Mosby asked police to target the intersection with “enhanced” drug enforcement efforts, court documents show.
“State’s Attorney Mosby asked me to look into community concerns regarding drug dealing in the area of North Ave and Mount St,” Joshua Rosenblatt, division chief of Mosby’s Crime Strategies Unit, wrote in a March 17 email to a Western District police commander.
The email was disclosed for the first time Tuesday in a motion filed in Baltimore Circuit Court by defense attorneys for the six officers being prosecuted in Gray’s arrest and death. The attorneys said Mosby’s involvement in the police initiative means that she should be removed from the case.
“Mrs. Mosby herself is now an integral part of the story and as such is a central witness,” the defense attorneys argued. “This is a case where the witness and the prosecutor are one and the same.”
Since Mosby made such a big deal about the wrongfulness of the arrest in making her charges, I don’t see how the trial cannot include arguments about it. And, if so, I don’t see how Mosby is going to be able to claim it is right for her to prosecute the case herself when arguably she will be called as a witness.
Kinji Scott, a longtime community activist, defended Mosby’s crime-fighting efforts. He said she did not order police to “put Freddie Gray in a situation where he had his spine severed. … We cannot fault her for doing her job and being involved in the community.”
Right. But the case now seems to depend completely on what happened in the van. Mosby’s statements about the case have always involved the legitimacy of the arrest itself. In general, it looks like Mosby is fine about passing on the needs of the community but then turning on the people who follow her orders. Everything seems to depend on Freddie Gray’s treatment in the van.
So we’ll have to see what happens.
In case you have missed it, the story also mentions that police are claiming that they made eye contact with Gray and that he then ran away from them. I’m pretty sure that will be considered legal “probable cause.” Unless there is direct evidence that the police are lying, I don’t see how the arrest of Gray can be used to charge the police with wrongdoing.
But again, we’ll have to see.