Mosby and the Freddie Gray blame game

Marilyn Mosby dumps on Rawlings-Blake in latest profile in national media.

Certainly it must have been a big help, on that day of infamy last year when Baltimore erupted, to have the state's attorney get angry, scream at the mayor and blame her for the vandalism, fires and looting that followed Freddie Gray's funeral. What a welcome moment of solidarity that must have been for the beleaguered Stephanie Rawlings-Blake — just what she needed on the worst day of her long career in public service.

Here's how Marilyn Mosby, getting yet another shot at fame and martyrdom in a national publication, described her outreach to Rawlings-Blake to The New York Times Magazine: "I called the mayor, and I was livid. I was like: 'You know, this is ridiculous. You all have single­handedly caused what's happening in this city right now.' I just screamed on her. ... You did this, not me. Not me.' And I was like, 'You know what else?' I can't remember what I said, but I hung up on her. And that was it."

It brightens this Baltimorean's heart to know that our state's attorney was so composed and mature and supportive of the mayor on the day she needed it most.

Of course, Rawlings-Blake is by now a lame duck, mostly because of what happened in April 2015 after Gray died from injuries sustained in police custody. The streets filled with demonstrators. In the hours after Gray's funeral, parts of the city collapsed into chaos. Rawlings-Blake was widely criticized for losing control of the streets. The governor of Maryland, who sent in the National Guard, took credit for saving the city, and cracked that Rawlings-Blake never thanked him.

Now here comes Mosby, nearly a year and a half later, to add her insult:

Had the mayor and her top cop, the former Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, refrained from putting out "misinformation" about the circumstances of Gray's death — specifically, the number of stops made by the police van that took Gray to the Western District police station — the city might have been spared the unrest.

"First Batts said there were three stops, and we knew at that point there were four or five," Mosby told the Times Magazine. "So I sat down with them and said: 'You know, we've got to stop putting misinformation out into the media and giving that to the public. It's going to be to our detriment.' They didn't listen."

Maybe you can follow Mosby's logic, I can't. Three stops, four stops — I don't know how, short of conducting a survey, Mosby can claim that as the specific grievance of the young men who threw pieces of bricks at the cops near Mondawmin Mall.

"Then the mayor started telling the media, 'Oh, absolutely we know that this death took place inside of the [police van],' Mosby went on. "Wait a minute. The investigation is not even complete. How are you going out to the public and saying you know for certain that this took place inside of the [van]?"

So Mosby's suggestion is that, by trying to tell the press and public what police were learning about Gray's fatal injury, Rawlings-Blake and Batts were somehow stoking the fires of unrest.

And yet, just a few days later, Mosby went on national television to shout charges against six police officers in Gray's death, saying their actions and inactions had caused his mortal injuries in the back of the police van.

Remember, all of this happened in a short period of time: Gray was arrested and injured on April 12. He died on April 19. His funeral was on April 27. The police task force that investigated his death met Batt's deadline for a report on May 1.

And it was on May 1 that Mosby surprised Batts and the whole country by announcing charges against the Freddie Gray Six. One of the officers, the driver of the van, was accused of murder.

In the end, the "misinformation" from Batts and Rawlings-Blake pretty much matched the information Mosby's staff presented in court.

Of course, as we all know, Mosby's staff did not win a single conviction. Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams acquitted three of the officers in rulings that broadly rebuked the cases presented by the state.

In July, Mosby dropped all remaining charges against the rest of the officers. Instead of admitting that she lacked evidence of criminality, she blamed a broken justice system, rigged in favor of defendants who opt for bench trials, and accused the police who investigated Gray's death of "inherent bias" against her efforts at justice.

So, there's a pattern of blaming others and things, and making accusations that don't stick, and that's a bad habit for the top prosecutor in a city suffering through a wave of violent crime.

For this Baltimorean, the most significant take-away from the Times story: In the 21 months since Mosby took office, more than 60 prosecutors have left. She blames that on "reform."

drodricks@baltsun.com

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