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It is certainly ironic that a request from State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby for stepped-up drug enforcement in a part of West Baltimore may have helped lead to the sequence of events that left 25-year-old Freddie Gray dead and six police officers charged by Ms. Mosby with a range of offenses up to second-degree murder. But it hardly makes her the key witness in the cases against the officers that their attorneys now claim, nor should it preclude her from overseeing their prosecutions.

On March 17, a Mosby deputy wrote an email to the Western District commander reporting that the state's attorney had been contacted by members of the community who were concerned about drug dealing in the area of North Avenue and Mount Street, in particular because an open-air drug market was operating outside the offices of a mentoring organization there. "Let me know if you're interested in working on an initiative and we can discuss further," the deputy, Joshua E. Rosenblatt, wrote. Three days later, the commander, Osborne Robinson, forwarded the email to four lieutenants — including one of the officers now charged in Gray's death — and ordered them to "conduct a daily narcotics initiative" in that area "effective immediately." He added that he would "review daily measurable." About three weeks later, officers made their fatal encounter with Gray in that exact area.

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The defense attorneys are making much of the idea that a suggestion from the state's attorney to focus enforcement efforts in a particular place is unusual and had not previously occurred during Ms. Mosby's four months in office. They also contend that Ms. Mosby was "directing these officers to one of the highest crime intersections in Baltimore City and asking them to make arrests, conduct surveillance and stop crime."

First, even if it's unusual, we see nothing wrong with Ms. Mosby seeking to respond to her constituents' complaints about drug dealing, whether or not it's occurring in the district where she and her husband, City Councilman Nick Mosby, live. And second, the memo did not direct anyone to do anything. It was couched in terms of exploring collaboration, not ordering anyone to make arrests — and certainly not to chase down and handcuff someone simply because he ran after making eye contact with a police officer, nor to place him face-down with his hands and legs bound in the back of a police van with no seat belt or other safety device, nor to ignore his pleas for medical attention, all of which prosecutors allege occurred in the Gray case.

The officers' attorneys have thrown a fusillade of accusations at Ms. Mosby, most of them seemingly designed to embarrass her and undermine her credibility in the eyes of a potential jury pool. But in fairness, this one is at least connected with a legal issue that is likely to be central at trial. For some of the officers, it will be crucial to determine whether they had the legal right to chase, detain and search Freddie Gray simply because he ran away. (Police say Gray was carrying a knife that the officers believed to be illegal under city or state law, though they did not know that until after he had been detained and handcuffed.) The U.S. Supreme Court and Maryland courts have held that unprovoked flight from the police in a high crime area is sufficient to justify an investigatory stop.

Whether what happened before the officers found the knife in Gray's pocket fits the definition of an investigatory detention or that of an arrest will be an issue at trial, but so too will be the question of whether his flight occurred in a high crime area. And on that point, the defense attorneys are making the incredible claim that Ms. Mosby is a "central witness" because she would have to testify about the information she received from community members about drug dealing in the area. That's simply preposterous. There are plenty of other ways to establish that the corner of North Avenue and Mount Street is a high-crime area more definitively than by Ms. Mosby's account, not the least of which would be the testimony of the officers patrolling the area. That was all it took in Illinois v. Wardlow, the case in which the Supreme Court set the applicable constitutional standard.

We have certainly not agreed with every step Ms. Mosby has taken in prosecuting this case, but that's a far cry from saying she should be legally barred from doing so. The people of Baltimore elected her to represent the interests of justice and public safety. That's what she did when she suggested collaborating with the police department to address community concerns about drug dealing, and that's what she's doing in bringing the officers' cases before a judge and jury.

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