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Baltimore prosecutors refer to lack of seat belt, probable cause in outline of Freddie Gray charges

Details of charges: Prosecutors refer to lack of seat belt, lack of probable cause to arrest Freddy Gray.

In the most detailed explanation of the charges against six police officers in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray yet filed in court, prosecutors say the officers failed to belt the 25-year-old Baltimore man into the back of a police van, and lacked probable cause to arrest him in the first place.

But they provide no new information on the most serious charges against the officers — including second-degree depraved-heart murder and manslaughter — in the bills of particulars filed this week in Circuit Court.

The office of State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby filed the documents in response to motions by the officers' defense attorneys requesting more information on her reasons for filing the charges.

Gray died in April after suffering a severe spinal cord injury in police custody, according to police and prosecutors. But how he was injured remains unclear. His autopsy results have not been made public.

Mosby's office has tried to keep that information out of the public eye. Prosecutors sought a gag order in the case, but the motion was opposed by the officers' attorneys and denied by a judge on procedural grounds.

The defense attorneys had asked for more detail on the murder and manslaughter charges. The prosecutors did not provide it.

"A Bill of Particulars provides due process notice of the charges lodged," they wrote, "but that process does not entail presenting the State's case via public, pre-trial pleadings such that the entire possible jury pool has heard, considered, and potentially prejudged the evidence before the first witness has even entered the courthouse."

Gray, 25, was arrested outside the Gilmor Homes housing project in West Baltimore April 12 and placed in the back of the police van. Witnesses have described a violent takedown; police have said he was arrested without undue force.

After a 45-minute ride, police and prosecutors say, Gray was pulled out of the van, unresponsive.

Gray's death on April 19 touched off a week of protests, culminating in a night of riots, looting and arson. Gov. Larry Hogan called in the National Guard; Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake imposed a curfew.

In indicting the officers last month, Mosby said they ignored multiple requests from Gray for medical attention and left him on his stomach in the back of the van.

Since then, prosecutors have provided no further details on the charges.

Some observers expected more information in the bills of particulars.

Kurt Nachtman, a defense attorney and former prosecutor in the Baltimore State's Attorney's office, said he found it surprising the state didn't lay out more clearly what it believes each officer did.

"I don't think for a case as serious as this that you should bring actual allegations that are so tenuous," he said. "That's a huge stretch of the law."

But David Jaros, a University of Baltimore School of Law professor and former defense attorney, said the filing was not unusual.

Early in a case, he said, "the defense tries to learn as much as possible about the state's case, and the state does it's best to tell them as little as possible."

"This is the beginning of legal wrangling," he said. "The defense attorneys are going to go in and say, 'They haven't given us enough.' The state will say, 'We've given them enough.' And maybe the judge will say, 'Give them more,' but it's part of a process."

Attorneys for Officers Garrett Miller, Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White declined to comment. Attorneys for Officers Ceasar Goodson, Edward Nero and William Porter could not be reached for comment.

Mosby declined through a spokeswoman to discuss the filings.

Jaros said the state might not reveal its arguments until the trial.

In explaining second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct charges against Goodson, White, Rice and Porter, prosecutors cited the seatbelt.

They said each officer "caused physical harm" to Gray by failing to secure him in the back of the van, and that the van then acted as an "instrumentality" of each of them and "made harmful contact" with Gray.

Prosecutors also referred to the seatbelt in explaining charges of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment against Nero and Miller. In explaining second-degree assault and misconduct charges against Nero and Miller, they said the officers lacked probable cause to arrest Gray.

The state also cited a lack of probable cause in relation to one of two misconduct in office charges against Rice.

Attorneys for Nero, Miller and Rice have argued their chasing and handcuffing Gray was legal in part because he was in a high-crime area at the time and fled unprovoked by police.

They have said the officers handcuffed Gray for their own safety. After he was detained, defense attorneys say he was arrested for carrying an illegal switchblade.

Mosby has said the folding knife Gray was carrying was not illegal.

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