Advertisement

Even after the remaining charges were dropped in Freddie Gray's death, Mosby receives hero's welcome in Sandtown

Even after the remaining charges were dropped in Freddie Gray's death, Mosby receives hero's welcome in Sandtown
Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby speaks at a press conference on her office's decision to drop the remaining charges in the cases against the officers involved with the death of Freddie Gray. (Tedd Henn/For City Paper)

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby arrived at the Gilmor Homes vanquished, her office announcing earlier in the morning that the charges against the remaining officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray would be dropped.

But she received a hero's welcome in Sandtown, where Gray lived, as she emerged from a black SUV to applause from the dozens of residents who had gathered around the media scrum awaiting Mosby's press conference.

Advertisement

"We love you," one yelled as Mosby approached the lectern placed on the Presbury Street sidewalk. "The citizens of Baltimore City, we got your back."

"We know they forced your hand, we know they forced your hand," another said.

A few people began chanting, "We're with you!"

The second woman continued: "We know they forced your hand, and the judge was paid off. We know it."

Mosby would only be reading a statement—she could not take any questions, a spokeswoman explained, because of the pending civil lawsuits brought by the same officers charged with Gray's death.

"Baltimore finds itself at the epicenter of a national conflict between urban and rural populations of color and the law enforcement agencies that are sworn to protect and serve them," Mosby began. "It is a struggle that strikes at the basic ideas of self-determination, justice, equality, and sadly, humanity in America."

Her tone was just as forceful and assured as it was on May 1, 2015 when she appeared before cameras to announce charges against officers Caesar Goodson Jr., William Porter, Edward Nero, and Garrett Miller, and Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia D. White. All six of these Baltimore Police Department members would not be facing time for Gray's death, but Mosby was not here to back off her actions.

"My professional role in this matter is plain: to seek justice on behalf of an innocent 25-year-old man who was unreasonably taken into custody after fleeing in his neighborhood, which just happens to be a high-crime neighborhood, and had his spine partially severed in the back of a Baltimore police wagon," she said. "As the chief prosecutor for Baltimore City, I took an oath to uphold justice and treat every individual within my jurisdiction equally and fairly under the law."

She went on to defend her record, citing past cases where her office was successfully able to get convictions, and answer her critics.

"There are those that believe I'm anti-police—that's simply not the case. I'm anti-police brutality."

The residents cheered.

She defended her office and said they had been "physically and professionally threatened, mocked, ridiculed... and even sued," but couldn't speak to defend themselves because of a gag order placed by Judge Barry Williams.

"I was elected to prosecute," she said. "I signed up for this, and I can take it."

Shouts of "That's right!" and "There you go, there you go" came from the residents.

Advertisement

Appearing at Mosby's side were Gray's mother, Gloria Darden, and stepfather, Richard Shipley. She turned toward them--to take a shot at the media's coverage of "everything but the untimely death of your son" and tell them, "My office has never wavered in our commitment to seeking justice on his behalf."

She then excoriated the Baltimore Police Department for its unwillingness to comply with the investigation of itself and their "counter-investigation to disprove the state's case."

"We've all bore witness to an inherent bias that is a direct result of when police police themselves," she said.

Defending her office's decision to bring all these charges, Mosby ran through all the stages that gave the cases legitimacy: a grand jury, motions hearings, repeated calls from the defense that they should be dropped.

But the likelihood of the remaining officers choosing a bench trial, as the three acquitted officers did, is "highly probable, and unfortunately so is the outcome."

"You did the right thing," a woman said.

"No matter how much we may disagree with these rulings, we do not believe Freddie Gray killed himself," Mosby said to huge applause.

Even so, the lack of communal oversight of policing and reforms to the criminal justice system means: "We could try this case 100 times, and cases just like it, and we will still end up with the same result."

There were a few things that she saw as gains "that ensure what happened to Freddie Gray never happens to another person." Namely, body cameras, cameras in the back of transport vehicles, rules that require officers to seat belt detainees and call for medics upon request (though her own attorneys argued throughout the trials that these were always policy), new software that makes officers acknowledge new departmental policies, and a supposed shift toward de-escalation by the BPD.

Mosby closed by pledging to continue to fight for reform and justice. And once she was done, she got back into the black SUV and drove off. The people who had been watching clapped their hands.

Reporters stayed around to talk to residents, and at one point, a crowd of photographers gathered around Gray's mother as she received hugs from community members and the State's Attorney's Office's chief of external affairs, Tammy Brown.

"Love on this woman, that's her son," one woman yelled as the scene unfolded.

Advertisement
Advertisement