Kevin Rector and Justin Fenton, Baltimore Sun, July 27, 2016
Prosecutors dropped all remaining charges against three Baltimore police officers accused in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in a downtown courtroom on Wednesday morning, concluding one of the most high-profile criminal cases in Baltimore history.
The startling move was an apparent acknowledgement of the unlikelihood of a conviction following the acquittals of three other officers on similar and more serious charges by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams, who was expected to preside over the remaining trials as well.
It also means the office of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby will secure no convictions in the case after more than a year of dogged fighting, against increasingly heavy odds, to hold someone criminally accountable in Gray’s death.
Gray, 25, suffered severe spinal cord injuries in the back of the van in April 2015 and died a week after his arrest. His death sparked widespread, peaceful protests against police brutality, and his funeral was followed by rioting, looting and arson.
At a news conference in West Baltimore, near where Gray was arrested, Mosby defended her decision to bring the charges against the officers, and said that “as a mother,” the decision to drop them was “agonizing.”
But, given Williams’ acquittal of Nero, Goodson and Rice and the likelihood that the remaining officers would also choose bench trials before him, Mosby said she had to acknowledge the “dismal likelihood” that her office would be able to secure a conviction.
“After much thought and prayer it has become clear that without being able to work with an independent investigatory agency from the very start, without having a say in the election of whether cases proceed in front of a judge or jury, without communal oversight of police in this community, without substantive reforms to the current criminal justice system, we could try this case 100 times and cases just like it and we would still end up with the same result,” she said.
She said there is an “inherent bias” whenever “police police themselves.” She said the charges she brought were not an indictment of the entire Baltimore Police Department, but she also broadly condemned the actions and testimony of some officers involved in Gray’s arrest or in the department’s investigation of the incident–alleging “consistent bias” at “every stage.”