Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Charges without Conviction? Baltimore Prosecutor under Fire

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Charges without Conviction? Baltimore Prosecutor under Fire

Article excerpt

With two trials and no convictions in the death of Baltimore's Freddie Gray, critics say that the prosecution may have moved too fast in bringing charges against police officers involved.

When Baltimore-area prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby quickly levied charges against six police officers in the death of Mr. Gray, many observers were pleased that justice was being carried out so quickly, especially following the decisions not to prosecute officers in other high-profile deaths of black men at the hands of police officers in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City. Now, critics are saying that the time may not have been right for Ms. Mosby to lay charges.

"This speaks to the notion a lot of people had when this first happened, which is that it was a rush to judgment," former civil rights prosecutor David Weinstein told the Associated Press. "The state's attorney was trying to balance what she had with the public outcry and call to action given the climate in Baltimore and across the US concerning policing, and I think she was overreaching."

Mosby, the state's youngest ever top prosecutor, was responding in part to public outcry after Gray's death when she levied charges just weeks after the incident, and just a day after receiving the Baltimore Police Department's investigation.

"To the youth of this city, I will seek justice on your behalf," Mosby told reporters during her announcement of the charges on May 1, 2015. "As young people our time is now."

That announcement was welcome news to enraged Baltimoreans who had taken to the streets in the wake of Gray's death in tense, and at times violent, protest. Gray's death quickly became symbolic of what activists described as a pattern of aggressive policing and mistreatment of black residents.

When Freddie Gray fled after making eye contact with police officers on April 12, 2015, officers gave chase. They arrested him on charges of having an illegal switchblade, though the legality of the knife Mr. Gray carried is still in question.

Although Gray repeatedly called for medical attention, his requests for help were ignored as he was carried, handcuffed but not fastened in a seatbelt, in the back of a police car for 45 minutes. …

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