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Politics of Freddie Gray incident spills into case of officer who slit dog's throat

Politics of Freddie Gray incident spills into case of officer who slit dog's throat

The politics of the Freddie Gray prosecution have spilled over into a separate case against Baltimore police officers accused of slitting a dog's throat last summer in Southeast Baltimore.

In a motion filed Thursday, a defense attorney raised questions about Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby's role in the dog case. The motion said she may have dropped charges against one of the officers because he is represented by the law firm of William H. "Billy" Murphy Jr., who donated to Mosby's campaign and served on her transition team.

Steven H. Levin, an attorney for Officer Jeffrey Bolger, who still faces multiple counts of animal cruelty, requested a hearing to determine if the January dismissal of charges against Officer Thomas Schmidt was motivated by Mosby's ties to Murphy. If so, Levin wants the court to appoint an independent prosecutor.

"Did Ms. Mosby have such a keen interest in the death of a stray and vicious dog that she unilaterally made it a priority to evaluate the comparative merits of the case against two charged police officers and decide to dismiss just one of them on her very first day in office?" Levin's motion states. "The public could easily conclude that the dismissal of the case against Officer Schmidt … was a small favor for a political mentor."

Mosby and Murphy did not return calls for comment about Levin's motion.

Mosby's ties to Murphy came under scrutiny last week as she announced charges against six police officers involved in Gray's arrest and transport. The local police union called on Mosby to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate the death because of her ties to Murphy, who represents Gray's family members. The union also said the prosecutor's marriage to City Councilman Nick Mosby presents her office with a conflict of interest because he represents the neighborhood where Gray was arrested.

Mosby dismissed the union's assertions, pointing out that the Fraternal Order of Police also donated to her campaign.

Levin's motion asked the court to disqualify Mosby from the dog case because she "appears to have engaged in a troubling pattern of favoritism and politically motivated charging decisions."

Levin said he made the state's attorney's office aware that the state medical examiner is prepared to testify that the Shar-Pei named Nala died of strangulation from the lasso of a dog pole being held by Schmidt.

Bolger "made a surgical incision to the dog's carotid artery" out of concern for "the prolonged suffering of the animal," according to the motion.

The dog had reportedly gotten loose from a Canton home and gone to Brewers Hill, where it bit the hand of a woman, leaving a superficial wound.

Both officers were charged with multiple counts of animal cruelty in June. Bolger hired Levine and Schmidt hired Murphy, Falcon & Murphy.

Both sides asked then-State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein to drop the charges, Levin's motion states.

"Then, in November 2014, Ms. Mosby was elected State's Attorney for Baltimore City, defeating the incumbent [Bernstein]," the motion states. "In the election Billy Murphy had supported Ms. Mosby, and [Levin] supported the incumbent."

Mosby was sworn into office on Jan. 8. On that day, she dropped the charges against Officer Schmidt, the motion states

The state's attorney's office said in January that the charges were dropped "due to developments in the ongoing investigation of this case" but declined to elaborate.

ddonovan@baltsun.com

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