I compliment the editorial board of The Sun for the insightful editorial on the verdict in the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. ("Goodson judgment should force Mosby to reconsider charges," June 23).
The death of Freddie Gray in police custody sparked community outrage and widespread violence unseen in Baltimore City since the riots of 1968.The resulting criminal investigation and prosecution of six Baltimore City police officers seems to have evoked emotions among police, prosecutors, defense attorneys and members of the community almost as uncontrolled as the fury of the riots following Freddie Gray's death.
To those of us who have toiled for decades in the complex and often confusing realm of the criminal justice system in Baltimore City, the prosecution of the six accused police officers has been difficult to analyze with true objectivity. The Sun's editorial was a refreshing lesson in objective, fact-oriented analysis.
It is hard to disagree with the editorial's conclusion that the State's Attorney's Office should re-evaluate the factual and evidentiary bases justifying any further prosecution of the accused officers. Judge Barry Williams is one of the most respected members of our bench. There is not an experienced attorney in Baltimore City, whether a prosecutor or a defense attorney, who does not recognize Judge Williams' fairness and accuracy in analyzing evidence and impartially applying the appropriate and applicable law to that evidence.
If a judge of his stature found the state's case lacking sufficient evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in the trial of Officer Goodson, the state should rationally conclude that further prosecution of the officers involved is pointless.
I am a supporter of Marilyn Mosby and have been since she announced her intent to run for the city state's attorney. In my opinion she is honest, dedicated, intelligent and has been successful in fulfilling her promise to prosecute anyone, whether citizen or police officer, when there is evidence of criminal conduct.
I believe she acted in good faith in pursuing the charges she did based upon the facts at her disposal at the time those charges were initiated. However, the state's evidence in the Goodson trial (much of which is necessary to the state's cases against the remaining officers) has been reviewed by a neutral and esteemed judge and found to be lacking. It is time to cease any further prosecutions.
The tragic death of Freddie Gray has resulted in some potentially positive opportunities. City Police Commissioner Kevin Davis seems sincerely committed to more open investigation of alleged police misconduct. Police body cameras will provide more accurate evidence of police interactions with our citizens. The new and safer police transport vans will lend greater safety to arrested individuals. Police officers who disregard the rights of citizens have been put on notice that they are not immune from prosecution. Hopefully these and other initiatives will help restore the public's confidence in our police department.
It is my sincere belief after three and a half decades of practicing law in Baltimore City that the overwhelming majority of police officers serving our city are honest, dedicated public servants who want to protect citizens and work for the public good. There are obviously some bad apples in the department and they should be weeded out. It is depressing that the actions of the few bad officers reflect so heavily on the many superb police officers we are lucky to have.
I cannot imagine the pain and sense of betrayal felt by so many honest, hard-working officers of our city who have, by a large segment of the community, been lumped in with the few officers who ignore the constitutional rights of our citizens. The morale of the police department is important.
Enforcing the law in Baltimore City is a difficult and dangerous job. Cooperation and coordination between the State's Attorney's Office and the Baltimore City Police Department is essential. Many officers feel the prosecution of their fellow officers in the aftermath of Freddie Gray's death was a political ploy by Ms. Mosby. I do not agree with that assessment of her actions. I think she acted in good faith based on the facts she knew.
However, now that those facts have been found insufficient to support a conviction. Ms. Mosby should discontinue further prosecution of the remaining officers and, by so doing, clear the stage for future reconciliation between her office and the police department.
Richard C. B. Woods, Baltimore