Advertisement

Prosecutors take credit for restoring order in Baltimore after riot

Prosecutors take credit for restoring order in Baltimore after riot
Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announces charges against six police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray at a news conference on May 1. (Lloyd Fox / Baltimore Sun)

By charging six police officers in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby restored order to Baltimore "before the entire city became an armed camp or was burned to the ground," her office argues in a new court filing.

Attorneys for the officers say Mosby's public announcement of the charges tainted the pool of potential jurors for their trial. They have asked a judge to throw the charges out.

Advertisement

But Michael Schatzow, Mosby's top deputy, said her announcement from the steps of Baltimore's War Memorial was appropriate in a city still reeling from a night of riots, arson and looting.

"Mrs. Mosby was trying to calm the crowd, not incite it," Schatzow wrote in a response to the defense motion. "Her repeated pleas for peace while the criminal justice system does its work served a legitimate law enforcement function."

The filing comes during a key week for the case. Prosecutors face a deadline Friday to turn over evidence to defense attorneys and to respond to defense motions that Mosby be removed from the case, that the charges be dismissed and that the case be moved out of Baltimore.

Gray, 25, died in April after suffering an injury to his neck and spine while riding handcuffed in a police van. A medical examiner found he suffered a single "high-energy injury" while in the van, according to an autopsy report obtained by The Baltimore Sun.

Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the driver of the van, has been charged with second-degree murder in Gray's death. Three officers face manslaughter charges; two others face lesser charges.

All the officers have pleaded not guilty. A trial is set for Oct. 13.

With the deadline to turn over evidence looming, prosecutors again urged a judge Wednesday to bar the trial participants from disclosing information to the public. They pointed to news reports about Gray's autopsy.

"The state is outraged that the autopsy was leaked to the public," Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledsoe wrote. "Even in death, Mr. Gray is not being provided with the appropriate respect that all humans deserve."

Bledsoe said defense attorneys have been selectively providing information to reporters and asked a judge to issue a protective order to stop further leaks.

Attorneys for the officers either could not be reached or declined to comment on the new filings.

William H. Murphy Jr., an attorney for Gray's family, said Wednesday that he wanted to see photographs, notes, test results, witness statements, video footage and police radio recordings relevant to the autopsy. "Without this evidence, nobody can intelligently comment about the conclusions in the autopsy report."

Bledsoe's filing is the latest in a series of barb-laden court papers in the case. Defense lawyers have questioned Mosby's conduct, asking that her entire office be removed from the case. Prosecutors asked a judge last week to deny that request.

The city had been quiet for several days before Mosby announced the charges May 1, but the National Guard and large numbers of police remained on the streets. Her announcement was met with jubilation around the city.

Schatzow dismissed arguments from defense lawyers that a single news conference could have an outsized impact on the case.

Advertisement

"While there has been an extraordinary amount of publicity about this case, there has been no prosecutorial misconduct," Schatzow wrote. "Defendants have demonstrated no basis for dismissal of the indictments."

Defense lawyers have questioned whether it was appropriate for Mosby and her husband, Councilman Nick Mosby, to appear on stage with Prince when he performed a concert in Baltimore soon after the riot. By appearing on stage, they argued, Mosby was endorsing the idea that violence would break out unless the accused officers were punished.

But Schatzow said they had mischaracterized her actions at the show.

"Mrs. Mosby did not utter a single word audible to anyone except her husband," Schatzow wrote. "She did not instruct Prince as to the songs he should sing. She did nothing except listen to the performance."

He added: "Mrs. Mosby endorsed nothing, except perhaps her enthusiasm for Prince, by sitting on stage for the entire concert."

twitter.com/iduncan

Advertisement
Advertisement