Monday, August 01, 2016

JUSTICE IN AMERICA - Lack of Prosecution of Cops

"All charges dropped against police awaiting trial in Freddie Gray case" by News Desk, PBS NewsHour 7/27/2016

"Why prosecutors dropped charges against Freddie Gray cops" PBS NewsHour 7/27/2016


SUMMARY:  Prosecutors dropped the charges against the three remaining officers awaiting trial in the death of Freddie Gray and former Baltimore prosecutor Debbie Hines says that, with three others already acquitted, Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby likely expected the same result.  The cops still may face suspension, firing or other actions in administrative proceedings, Hines tells Hari Sreenivasan.

HARI SREENIVASAN (NewsHour):  In a surprise move today, prosecutors in Baltimore dropped all remaining charges against three police officers in the Freddie Gray case.

Gray died of spinal cord injuries last year, after being arrested and transported unsecured in a police van.  His death sparked widespread protests, looting and arson across Baltimore.  Prosecutors charged six officers connected to the arrest, all of whom pleaded not guilty.  The first trial resulted in a hung jury and mistrial.  Three others ended in separate acquittals.

Baltimore state's attorney Marilyn Mosby called today's decision agonizing.

MARILYN MOSBY, Baltimore State's Attorney:  We stand by the medical examiner's determination that Freddie Gray's death was a homicide.

However, after much thought and prayer, it has become clear to me that without being able to work with an independent investigatory agency from the very start, without having a say in the election of whether our cases proceed in front of a judge or a jury, without communal oversight of policing in this country, without real substantive reforms to the current criminal justice, we could try this case 100 times, and cases just like it, and we would still end up with the same result.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  After she spoke, the head of the police union in Baltimore called Ms.  Mosby's comments — quote — “outrageous.”

Lawyers for the police officers had argued that their client's actions during the Gray arrest were justified.

For more on all this, we are again joined by Debbie Hines.  She is a former Baltimore prosecutor who today practices law in Washington, D.C.

First, were you surprised by the decision this morning?

DEBBIE HINES, Former Baltimore Prosecutor:  Oh, I think everybody was surprised by the decision this morning, myself included, because, as it looked, Officer Miller's case was going to start to trial this week, and then, of course, Officer Porter would have been tried later, and Sergeant Alicia White.

So, I don't think anybody saw it coming, but I think it's a good move on the part of the state's attorney, if she evaluated it and came to the determination that there is no new, new evidence she can put forth in any of the cases.  And like she said, if she tried it 100 more before Judge Barry Williams, she would get the same result.  So it was a good decision.

HARI SREENIVASAN:  So, is this a way for her to cut her losses?

DEBBIE HINES:  I don't want to word it that way.

I think that the way I would word it is — because we don't look at it that way.  I mean, in terms of prosecution, it's not a game.  It's not a baseball game or a football game, in deciding what you are going to do to cut your losses.

It's real-life criminal prosecution.  So, I think that what she decided is not cutting her losses, but hopefully having her team and other members evaluate, and just determining that there wasn't any way that they were going to get a conviction based on the evidence that they have from the police officers.

NOTE:  As far as I know, dropping a case means it the charges can be brought up later.  It's NOT the same as 'not guilty.'

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