From The Wall Street Journal:
Prosecutors fail to secure conviction in fourth trial involving 2015 death of black man in a police van
By Scott Calvert | Updated July 18, 2016 3:35 p.m. ET
BALTIMORE—A judge on Monday acquitted police Lt. Brian Rice of manslaughter and all other charges in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray , another defeat for prosecutors who have yet to secure a conviction after trying four of the six officers charged in the high-profile case.Circuit Judge Barry Williams also found Lt. Rice not guilty of reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. The judge earlier dismissed an assault charge, and prosecutors dropped a second misconduct count. Lt. Rice elected to have the judge decide the case rather than a jury.
Lt. Rice, 42 years old, is the highest ranking of the six officers charged in the case. A medical examiner found Mr. Gray died of a severe spinal cord injury he sustained in a police van after his arrest for allegedly possessing an illegal knife.
Mr. Gray’s death sparked protests and rioting that spurred Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan to activate the National Guard, and the case helped fuel a national debate over policing in minority communities. The 25-year-old Mr. Gray was black, as are three officers charged in the case. The other three are white, including Lt. Rice. All six pleaded not guilty.
There’s more at the link.
A lot of people are referring to the prosecution’s record here as 0-4. Given that the first trial ended with a hung jury, perhaps 0-3-1 would be more accurate, but the facts are stark: in four trials, there have been three acquittals and one no verdict. The three acquittals came in “bench” trials, trials in which the defendants waived their right to a jury trial, preferring to have the judge determine their guilt or innocence, and in all three, Judge Williams determined that the prosecution failed to prove that the defendants had committed any crimes. Perhaps it’s time to consider whether all of the charges were the result not of a sound investigation, but political zealotry.
The Atlantic is not exactly a right-wing publication:
A law professor says Marilyn Mosby may have overcharged officers in Freddie Gray’s death, but that’s common with ordinary defendants.
David A. Graham | May 6, 2015
Marilyn Mosby’s press conference Friday shocked residents of Baltimore and everyone else watching protests over Freddie Gray’s death. Barely 24 hours after police had completed their investigation into the death of the 25-year-old black man in police custody, the Baltimore City state’s attorney announced a strong slate of charges against the six officers involved. It wasn’t just the speed (Mosby said her office had begun investigations the day after Gray’s arrest, and six days before his death) but the charges: second-degree depraved-heart murder against one officer, with the others facing a mix of manslaughter, assault, misconduct, and false imprisonment.
The decision was met with jubilation in West Baltimore, where protestors had rioted just four nights before. But almost immediately, critics began to second-guess Mosby, who’s been on the job for just a few months. Were her charges politically motivated, or perhaps calculated to calm protests? Had she overcharged the officers, picking unfair charges, or ones she couldn’t win? Did she move too fast to charge the officers?
The answer to some of those questions is probably yes, says David Jaros, an associate professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law: There’s good reason to think that Mosby was driven by political considerations, and it’s quite possible that the charges she filed against the officers are stronger than she can get a conviction for. While that’s cause for concern, it’s also absolutely typical in criminal cases involving defendants who aren’t police, Jaros says. Prosecutors commonly overcharge, they don’t always wait for a thorough investigation, and they are susceptible to outside influence.
There’s more at the link, and Professor Jaros is not exactly supportive of the police officers. Rather, he is saying that Mrs Mosby moved too quickly, pressing charges which seemed to him to be very difficult to prove.
Translation: the prosecutor was engaged in the legal version of mob violence. She didn’t proceed with caution and calm, but acted too quickly to try to forestall more protests. The charges in the Gray cases, like the charges against George Zimmerman, were driven by politics, not by the actual evidence. Now, even The Baltimore Sun is saying that it’s time for Mrs Mosby to move on, that the judge has thrice rebuked the prosecution for presenting poor cases, failing to present evidence that the police officers tried so far committed any crimes.