Rawlings-Blake disagrees with Mosby criticism of criminal justice system

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake calls Freddie Gray prosecutions "an opportunity for growth."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake pointed to Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams' concerns Wednesday when asked about prosecutors' decision to drop all remaining charges against city police in Freddie Gray's arrest and death.

Rawlings-Blake told MSNBC's Thomas Roberts that "I certainly don't agree" with comments by Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby that disparaged the criminal justice system. Whether Mosby should have taken a different tack Wednesday is up to the public to decide, the mayor said.

"As an attorney, I understand the high ethical standards that we are held to," Rawlings-Blake said. "I understand that when you seek justice, it is supposed to be blind.

"I took a look at the judge's concerns, his statements in the previous cases, and he raised some very, I think, salient points about the choice to move forward with the prosecution. His voice should be the loudest."

In acquitting Lt. Brian Rice of all charges this month, Williams said prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proving charges against Rice beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge said Mosby's office was asking the court to rely on "presumptions and assumptions," which it cannot do.

The court, Williams has said, "cannot be swayed by sympathy, prejudice or public opinion."

Williams has repeatedly said prosecutors presented little or no evidence to support their theory that officers acted unreasonable and willfully disregarded their training and general orders when they decided not to secure Gray with a seat belt in the back of a police transport van. That decision, prosecutors maintain, directly led to his death.

In an earlier interview Wednesday with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the mayor was asked whether she had confidence in Mosby.

"I do," Rawlings-Blake told Blitzer from Philadelphia, where she has been taking part in the Democratic National Convention. "And I am optimistic that everything that we do in life, whether it turns out the way we want it to or not, is an opportunity for growth and to learn.

"I have certainly learned from the challenges that I have faced, but I have never — and will never — use my position to give the impression to the community that they should not have confidence in the people who have sworn to serve them."

In explaining her decision to drop the remaining charges, Mosby said it had become clear that "without being able to work with an independent investigatory agency from the very start … without substantive reforms to the current criminal justice system, we could try this case 100 times and cases just like it and we would still end up with the same result."

Rawlings-Blake told MSNBC that she agrees with Mosby that "meaningful reforms in the criminal justice system are needed, as well as reforms in our own police department." The mayor said she has worked during her 20 years in elected office to improve the criminal justice system, including asking the U.S. Department of Justice to study the city police department's policies and practices. That investigation is ongoing.

"I think that we can agree that work has been done and will continue to be done with the support of the community," Rawlings-Blake told Roberts.

Rawlings-Blake, who is secretary of the national Democratic Party, is expected to return to Baltimore after the conclusion of the convention, which ends Thursday.

The mayor gaveled in the convention Monday and conducted the roll call Tuesday, when Democrats chose Hillary Clinton as the party's presidential nominee.

She told Roberts her role in the convention has been "a lot of fun."

"I have been coming to conventions since '92," she said. "I have been involved in campaigns since I was a child, and to be able to stand on that stage and be a part of history, it still gives me goose bumps."

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