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Former police commissioner: Mosby 'incompetent' and 'vindictive'

Former Baltimore police Commissioner Anthony Batts says State's Attorney Mosby "incompetent," "vindictive."

The former police commissioner in charge when Freddie Gray died from injuries sustained in a Baltimore police van said State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby is "in over her head" and has added more flaws to a broken justice system by prosecuting innocent officers.

"She's immature, she's incompetent, she's vindictive and that's not how the justice system is supposed to work," former Baltimore police commissioner Anthony W. Batts said on Wednesday. "The justice system is supposed to be without bias for police officers, for African Americans, for everyone."

Batts led Baltimore police from the fall of 2012 until Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake fired him in July 2015 amid a surge in city homicides that followed weeks of criticism from the police union over his handling of the city's riots two months before.

Batts said Mosby never should have filed charges against the six officers involved in Gray's arrest, and that her decision Wednesday to drop charges against the remaining three officers facing trials was long overdue.

Her actions, Batts said, have further harmed a criminal justice system in need of repairs.

"Don't create more flaws in that broken system," he said. "And you don't do it on the back of innocent people just to prove that point."

A spokeswoman from the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office did not respond to Batts' specific claims, but lumped them with the comments made by the GOP's presidential candidate.

"Today Donald Trump and former commissioner Anthony Batts have attacked the State's Attorney in numerous ways, but as our First Lady Michelle Obama said, when they go low we go high," said Rochelle Ritchie, a spokeswoman for Mosby's office.

Weeks of an internal police investigation found no evidence that officers committed any crimes or meant to hurt Gray, Batts said. The former police commissioner said he has always acknowledged that mistakes were made, and that Gray should have been given medical care during his fatal van ride.

"There was no question that Freddie Gray should have gone home after that interaction," Batts said. "But sometimes when people are doing the job of police work, bad things happen sometimes."

Days after Gray's death, Batts said he personally urged the Baltimore city solicitor to issue a civil settlement in the case. In September 2015, the city approved a $6.4 million payout to the Gray family, accepting all civil liability.

"I was proud of the city stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility," he said.

Forty officers on a task force Batts convened to investigate Gray's death looked at every angle of Gray's arrest and could not find evidence of a crime, Batts said. That became clear in court and to the public after prosecutors failed to secure any convictions through four trials.

"My heart bled for these officers as they went through these steps," Batts said. "I think Marilyn Mosby is in over her head."

He said the six officers who faced trials have "a good heart."

"I didn't see any malice in the heart of those police officers," Batts said. "I don't think those officers involved are those you would put in the class of bad or malicious or evil police officers."

Batts, who also oversaw police departments in Long Beach and Oakland, Calif., is currently working as a consultant with the AWW Group training police commanders, including a group in Fort Worth, Texas, last week.

He said there were problems within the Baltimore Police Department, and said one of his top priorities was to root out corrupt or abusive officers during his tenure — even to the point that his calls for reform and transparency made enemies on the force, who called for his firing.

While he said he had a responsibility to protect his officers, "my bigger responsibility is to the public trust to make sure they had all the information and the correct information."

He took umbrage at Mosby saying police "bias" obstructed her case, and said his tenure showed patterns of creating transparency, such as when he gave the family of Anthony Anderson a copy of his autopsy and appointed an independent commission to look into his 2012 death.

Anderson died from internal injuries after he was tackled by police officers during a drug investigation. The State's Attorney's Office, which was run then by Mosby's predecessor, did not file charges against officers in that case.

Batts said Mosby cannot make police her scapegoat by saying officers obstructed her investigation to protect their colleagues.

"There was no obstruction," Batts said. "I would have taken off anyone's head if I knew they were obstructionist. … The judge said it: (The case) didn't have merit and you can't put that on anyone else."

jgeorge@baltsun.com.

Twitter.com/justingeorge

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