Reporter Kevin Rector talks about recent motions that have been filed by the four Baltimore Police officers still awaiting trial in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. (Kevin Richardson/Baltimore Sun video)
The four Baltimore police officers still awaiting trial in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray have filed fresh motions asking that their cases be dismissed, based on "defects" in the prosecution.
The defects, the officers' attorneys argued, relate to two recent disclosures — one by a Baltimore sheriff's major, who said he agreed with prosecutors to sign off on the officers' charges without personal knowledge of their basis, and another by a police detective, who said prosecutors prompted her to provide misleading testimony to the grand jury that indicted the officers.
Attorneys for Lt. Brian Rice, Officer Garrett Miller, Officer William Porter and Sgt. Alicia White argued in nearly identical motions that the disclosures show that prosecutors violated the officers' constitutional right to due process and that the charges against them should therefore be dismissed.
Rice is the next officer scheduled to stand trial, starting with a motions hearing Tuesday. Miller's trial is to begin July 27. Porter's retrial is to begin Sept. 6. White's trial is to begin Oct. 13.
The officers' motions for dismissal, made public Tuesday, are the first since Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams acquitted two other officers charged in the Gray case. Williams has rejected previous requests for dismissal, but not on the grounds the officers are now arguing.
Williams has imposed a gag order that prevents prosecutors and defense attorneys from speaking publicly on the cases.
Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died in April 2015 after suffering a severe spinal injury in police custody. Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby filed charges against six officers in his arrest and death. All have pleaded not guilty.
The disclosure by Maj. Samuel Cogen came in a separate civil case brought by some of the officers against him and Mosby.
The officers allege wrongful prosecution. In an affidavit, Cogen stated he was "presented with a narrative that formed the basis of the application for the statement of charges that I completed," but that the "facts, information and legal conclusions contained within" and the "charges lodged" against the officers "came entirely from members of the State's Attorney's Office."
The disclosure by Detective Dawnyell Taylor came in notes she took during the police investigation of Gray's death, in which she served as the lead detective. In the notes, Taylor said a script provided to her by prosecutors to read to the grand jury "had several things that I found to be inconsistent with our investigation." She also said she "thought the statements in the narrative were misquoted."
Rice, Miller, Porter and White argued that they should be given additional access to grand jury minutes and testimony so they and the court can properly assess how their rights were violated. They also argued that they should be allowed to file subsequent and related motions under seal of the court. They asked for hearings to discuss the issue.
They also filed separate motions asking Williams to order prosecutors to disclose the minutes and testimony from the grand jury in which Taylor testified. They say Taylor's notes suggest that Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledsoe gave witness testimony during the grand jury proceedings without being sworn in as a witness.
The officers' attorneys wrote that "this testimony, the script that it was based on, and the testimony of Jan Bledsoe, and any other witnesses who presented testimony (sworn or unsworn) must be disclosed to the defense in this case."
Through such a disclosure, a review of what is revealed and a court hearing on the matter, the attorneys said, the defense will be able to show that the "multiple defects" in the prosecution "rose to the level of prosecutorial misconduct and a violation of the officers' rights to due process."
Rice, the highest-ranking officer of the six involved in the case, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office.
Miller, the officer who first took Gray into custody, is charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office. Porter, who interacted with Gray during the arrest, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. White, another supervisor, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
The officers' filings come after Williams acquitted the driver of the van, Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., on all charges last week. Goodson had faced the most serious charge among the officers: second-degree depraved-heart murder.
Breaking News Alerts Newsletter
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
Williams acquitted Officer Edward Nero of all charges last month. Williams declared a mistrial in December after a jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on any of the four charges against Porter.
After the acquittals of Nero and Goodson, some legal observers have questioned whether the prosecution has a path forward to convict any of the officers. But prosecutors have given no sign that they intend to drop the remaining cases. They have continued this week to file motions on the admissibility of certain evidence and testimony in Rice's trial.
Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this article.