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Baltimore Police commissioner: Cop charged in Freddie Gray case not moving to internal affairs, despite memo

A department-wide personnel order that said a Baltimore police officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray was being reassigned to the internal affairs unit is “not accurate,” acting Commissioner Darryl De Sousa said Friday.

“She is not being moved to internal affairs,” De Sousa said at a news conference, in which he also said a deputy commissioner appointment was being rescinded a day after he announced it. “I did request some staff members to kind of give me some names, their thought process on who should be where.”

De Sousa announced Thursday the people who will fill the top command posts in the police department. In addition, Human Resources order 171-18 was sent out to members of the agency Thursday and listed 14 other moves to become effective Friday. The order includes a signature above De Sousa’s name, though it says that person was signing “for” De Sousa.

Police Department spokesman T.J. Smith said the order “apparently wasn’t authorized,” but did not immediately provide additional information about the circumstances of the order being issued and whether any of the other moves listed in it were moving forward.

It was the latest instance of internal confusion in recent weeks. The day Mayor Catherine Pugh announced De Sousa as the next commissioner, he gave an order to cut off at least one commander’s access to department files and communication systems. He said his intention was to prevent leaks of sensitive information, but that an “overzealous” member of his staff wrongly cut off the access of multiple others in the department.

Earlier this week, officers also were sent an order on behalf of Deputy Commissioner Andre Bonaparte — before he had been announced as a new deputy commissioner. Then, De Sousa announced Thursday the appointment of retired officer Thomas Cassella as another deputy commissioner. De Sousa said Friday he had decided to reverse course, then a spokesman said De Sousa was re-evaluating the decision and had not made a determination.

White was among six officers charged by the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office in May 2015 in connection with Gray’s death. White’s case never made it to trial; it was dropped after prosecutors lost three cases and a jury could not reach agreement on a fourth.

White said she did nothing wrong. An internal disciplinary investigation, conducted by Montgomery County authorities, recommended White be fired, but those charges were also dropped after other officers also facing termination prevailed in their disciplinary hearings.

“I still believe that, when I went to work that day, I did everything that I was trained to do,” White said in a series of interviews with The Baltimore Sun in late 2016. “Unfortunately, that day someone lost their life. But I feel like everything I was trained to do, I did.”

The personnel order listed nine officers moving to internal affairs, including two lieutenants, three sergeants, and four detectives. White was not the only figure from the Freddie Gray case listed as moving to internal affairs — Alice Carson-Johnson was also named.

Officer Carson-Johnson was found guilty of misconduct for missing a meeting in August 2015 with Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe, who was preparing for the trials of officers accused in Gray’s death. Bledsoe complained about Carson-Johnson, who was moved to building security at police headquarters as a result.

Carson-Johnson’s internal disciplinary trial was the first to be public after the General Assembly passed a law opening up those hearings.

Her role at the trial was to testify as an instructor at the Police Department academy who provided Officer William Porter with medical response training in 2013.

Another officer listed as moving to internal affairs was Sgt. Terrance McGowan. In September, the Board of Estimates approved a $110,000 lawsuit settlement in a case in which McGowan was a defendant. The case involved allegations made by two people who said police arrested them after they sought help following a “road rage” incident.

The plaintiffs believed they were victims of a road rage incident and racial hostility. They spotted a police vehicle and tried to get help. But the occupants of the other vehicle were already talking to police, and the two sides began yelling at each other. Each side blamed the other for causing the incident, according to the city.

Officers called for backup, and police arrested the plaintiffs. Charges against them were later dismissed.

City solicitor Andre Davis said at the time that a “total success in de-escalation would have resulted in no arrest.” But he added: “In this instance, the officers seem to have done the best they could do, given the circumstances.”

jfenton@baltsun.com

twitter.com/justin_fenton

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