Trial Of Freddie Gray Police Van Driver Ends In Acquittal

The trial of the man who was believed to be the most culpable in the death of Freddie Gray has been acquitted, calling the entire prosecution strategy into question.

Baltimore Police

The trial of a third Baltimore Police Officer in the death last year of Freddie Gray has ended in another acquittal, leading many to question if prosecutors will now be able to obtain guilty verdicts in any of the six cases it has brought arising out of Gray’s death:

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore police officer who drove the van in which Freddie Gray sustained a fatal spinal injury was acquitted on Thursday of second-degree murder and six lesser charges, leaving prosecutors still without a conviction after three high-profile trials in a case that has shaken this city.

In his ruling, Judge Barry G. Williams rejected the prosecution’s claim that the officer, Caesar R. Goodson Jr., had given Mr. Gray a “rough ride” in the van, intentionally putting him at risk for an injury by taking a wide turn while Mr. Gray was not secured with a seatbelt.

“The court finds there is insufficient evidence that the defendant gave or intended to give Mr. Gray a rough ride,” Judge Williams, said, adding that there had not been “evidence presented at this trial that the defendant intended for any crime to happen.”

Mr. Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was arrested in April of last year after fleeing, apparently unprompted, from officers in the downtrodden Sandtown neighborhood of West Baltimore, and loaded onto the floor of the van. His legs were shackled and his hands cuffed behind his back, and he was not wearing a seatbelt. The police wagon made six stops before it arrived at the Western District police station, where Mr. Gray was found unresponsive and not breathing with a spinal cord injury. He died about a week later.

On Thursday, the courtroom was packed, and hushed, as the judge read the verdicts; sheriff’s deputies had issued a warning: “No moans, no groans.” Afterward, Officer Goodson hugged member of his family and two other officers charged in the death — Officers Garrett E. Miller and Edward M. Nero — who had been seated in the front row.

The state’s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, heaved a sigh and walked out, her head down, escorted by her security guard. The two prosecutors who tried the case, Jan Bledsoe and Michael Schatzow, followed, purse-lipped and looking glum.

For Ms. Mosby, the not guilty verdicts raise an obvious and painful question: Can she go forward with the rest of the prosecutions? Four more trials — including a retrial of Officer William G. Porter, whose first trial ended with a hung jury in December — remain. (Officer Nero was acquitted of four charges last month.) Several lawyers who attended the trial said Ms. Mosby must now rethink her strategy.

“If she abandons the prosecution of the four remaining trials, the only interpretation of that is that she has been defeated — certainly that does not bode well politically for her,” said Warren Alperstein, a lawyer who represents police officers, though not those charged in the Gray cases. “On the other hand, how do far do you take this when you are 0 for three?”

Warren Brown, a defense lawyer in Baltimore, said that “this was the state’s Waterloo.”

Mr. Gray’s death spurred days of violent protests that prompted the governor to call in the National Guard and put the city at the center of a wrenching national debate over race and policing. Ms. Mosby, stood on the steps of the city’s War Memorial and told residents that she would “deliver justice” on their behalf. Ms. Mosby then took the unusual step of charging six officers in Mr. Gray’s fatal arrest and death, reserving the steepest charge — second-degree “depraved heart” murder — for Officer Goodson, who is also black.

As with Officer Edward Nero, who was acquitted of the charges against hum last month, Officer Goodson chose to have his case heard by a Judge rather than a Jury and it arguably worked out to his benefit just as it did for Officer Nero due to the fact that the Judge was far less likely to be swayed by the passions that had spread through the community in the wake of Gray’s death. The difference between Nero and Goodson, though, lies in the fact that the charges against Goodson were far more serious and, as the driver of the van that Gray was injured in prior to his death, Goodson was viewed as potentially far more culpable than Nero or any of the other officers in Gray’s death since it was, at least in theory, was considered the most responsible for ensuring that Gray was secured in the vehicle safely. Finally, given that the specific charge underlying all of the prosecutions has been that Gray died due to a ‘rough ride’ through the streets of Baltimore at a high rate of speed that was specifically designed to toss him around inside the van, the fact that Goodson was the driver made him responsible for his driving behavior and any apparent effort to make the ride rougher than reasonably necessary for anyone sitting in the back of the van. As it turned out, the Judge found that the state had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Goodson was aware of the nature of Gray’s injuries, or that he had given Gray a ‘rough ride’:

In his ruling, the judge methodically turned aside the state’s main contentions. The state, he said, had failed to prove that Officer Goodson knew or should have known that Mr. Gray needed medical attention during most of the van ride.

Prosecutors, he said, had also “failed to prove behind a reasonable doubt that the defendant drove in a criminally negligent manner.”

Prosecutors had also claimed that Officer Goodson had a duty to place a seatbelt on Mr. Gray, and failed to do so. Judge Williams said there was a point, during the van’s fourth stop, when Officer Goodson should have reassessed whether it was possible to put a seatbelt on Mr. Gray.

“Here, the failure to seatbelt may have been a mistake, or may have been bad judgment,” Judge Williams said, but the state had not shown it was a crime.

More from The Baltimore Sun:

The Baltimore Police van driver accused of giving a “rough ride” that killed Freddie Gray was acquitted of all charges Thursday by Circuit Judge Barry Williams.

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 46, had faced the most serious charges of any of the six officers indicted in Gray’s arrest and death last April, including second-degree depraved heart murder. Goodson was also acquitted of three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

His acquittal, which comes after Williams considered the charges for three days, throws the rest of the cases into jeopardy. The other officers charged face similar, but lesser accusations.

Williams said the timeline of Gray’s injuries remains unclear, and the state “failed to meet its burden” to present enough evidence to back its assertions.

“As the trier of fact, the court can’t simply let things speak for themselves,” Williams said.

After the verdict, Goodson was patted on the back by his attorneys, and a group of about 10 family members including his father hugged and wiped away tears. One man grabbed and kissed the top of Goodson’s head and then raised his palms to the ceiling.

(…)

Prosecutors alleged Goodson had five chances to render aid to Gray after his neck was broken in the back of the van, which they said demonstrated a “depraved heart.”

They also said Goodson was the direct cause of the injuries, driving the van in a reckless manner that threw him in the back of the van’s steel cage, shackled but unrestrained by a seat belt. As a certified field training officer, prosecutors said Goodson knew Police Department rules and broke them.

Williams, a former city prosecutor who investigated police misconduct for the Justice Department, said there were a number of “equally plausible scenarios” for when Gray was injured in the van. He talked through five such scenarios and why evidence showed they were plausible — and complicated the assertion that Goodson failed to act.

Williams repeatedly cited the testimony of the prosecution’s medical witnesses – that Gray’s injuries would have been progressive, and that he could have talked, moved his head and held himself up at various points along the transport – to suggest that it would have been hard for Goodson to tell if Gray was injured.

“This injury manifested itself internally,” he said, of Gray’s spinal injury. “That is one of the key issues here. If the doctors are not clear as to what would be happening at this point in time, how would the average person or officer without medical training know?”

Williams cited Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow’s use of a “rough ride” theory as the “centerpiece” of the prosecution’s case in his opening statement. The judge said “rough ride” is an “inflammatory term” that is “not to be taken lightly,” and said the state had failed to prove such a ride was given to Gray.

Williams said the only time the prosecution had proved that Goodson had neglected his duty to secure Gray with a seat belt was at the van’s fourth stop.

“The failure to seatbelt may have been a mistake or it may have been bad judgment, but without showing more than has been presented to the court concerning the failure to seatbelt and the surrounding circumstances, the state has failed to meet its burden to show that the actions of the defendant rose above mere civil negligence,” Williams said.

He repeatedly mentioned the higher burden to prove criminal negligence, compared to civil negligence. The city has already paid out a $6.4 million civil settlement to Gray’s family.

Goodson’s defense attorneys said officers who checked on Gray didn’t know he was seriously injured, and that Goodson deferred to decisions of other officers not to put a seat belt on Gray.

His attorneys also disputed the time frame of Gray’s injuries, placing them later in the van’s journey and therefore offering less chances to intervene, and blamed Gray himself, saying he had been placed on his stomach in the van and stood up.

Since I didn’t follow the case in detail, I have to assume that Judge Williams’ evaluation of the evidence is an accurate one. If it is, though, it calls into question the entire manner in which the prosecution approached this case, and the way that it is handling the trials of all the cases of the officers involved in the circumstances leading to Gray’s death. By all accounts, Goodson was the most culpable of all the officers involved in this incident and the evidence against him was supposedly the strongest of all the officers as well. The fact that the State’s Attorney was unable to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that the previous two trials have ended in a hung jury and an acquittal suggests that there is something flawed in the prosecutor’s trial strategy or that there was a rush to judgment last year when these six officers were arrested and charged within days after the protests that devolved into rioting last May, or perhaps both. It also suggests that proceeding with the remaining trials in this case may well end up being a waste of time that will result in acquittals similar to what we’ve already seen. It’s possible, of course, that this is exactly what justice demands, but the fact that prosecutors couldn’t prove even simple criminal negligence on Goodson’s part given what we know about how Gray died is puzzling to say the very least.

So far at least, it appears that the reaction to the outcome of this case on the streets of Baltimore appears to be muted. No doubt, city and state authorities are preparing for the worst, but the fact that the hung jury and acquittal in the previous two cases did not result in any significant trouble is a good sign that things will not devolve into the kind of anarchy we saw in May of last year. Beyond that, though, this development is likely to stand as a further embarrassment to the State’s Attorney in this case, who stuck her neck out from the beginning of this process in promising to bring “justice” for the protesters. Arguably, she did not properly prepare them for the possibility that justice came when the six officers were charged and that the outcome that we’ve seen in these first two cases is exactly what justice demands due to the fact that it cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Freddie Gray’s death was the result of criminal acts on the part of these officers. It’s an important distinction, but not one that’s easy to explain to layman. Now, she finds herself with four officers to try and the distinct possibility that it may not be possible to convict any of them beyond a reasonable doubt. If that’s the case, then she arguably has an ethical duty to consider not proceeding to trial at all.

Here is the transcript of Judge Williams’ verdict:

State of Maryland v. Goodson by Doug Mataconis

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts, Race and Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Lit3Bolt says:

    Somehow I don’t think reasonable doubt meshes well with the Joseph Cambell Hero-Demigod-Warrior-Cop narrative.

    Someone educate me please, asking geniune question, are cops only held to criminal standards of proof and not civil? Is it because of their gov’t status that they constantly get away with wrongful deaths like this, because they can switch gov’t and citizen hats at will?




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  2. Jack says:

    @Lit3Bolt: No one can ever say I defer to the cops or that I believe they can do no wrong.

    In this case, there was no wrong doing, by any of the cops. The prosecutor tried to make a case of a “rough ride” and it was figuratively laughed out of court. This was by far the best case they has and it still flopped.

    We may never learn how Freddie Gray broke his neck, but I see no police liability for it.




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  3. Peacewood says:

    I guiltily confess, part of me, upon hearing the charges laid out, muttered, “It figures the only cop they charge with murder would be the black cop.”

    Perhaps it’s just as well the cops were found not guilty. But I can’t help but feel that some grave miscarriage of justice has just taken place here.




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  4. Gustopher says:

    “The court finds there is insufficient evidence that the defendant gave or intended to give Mr. Gray a rough ride,” Judge Williams, said, adding that there had not been “evidence presented at this trial that the defendant intended for any crime to happen.”

    When did “intent for any crime to happen” become a requirement for criminal negligence?

    As far as the insufficient evidence that the defendant gave Mr. Gray a rough ride, I would have to assume that either the prosecutor was incompetent, or the judge was unwilling to see the evidence before his eyes.




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  5. Gustopher says:

    @Jack: Given that the city has paid out millions to the family of the deceased, I think it is pretty clear that there was police liability.

    The only question in this case was whether that was a criminal liability that could be placed around the neck of the driver.




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  6. Gustopher says:

    @Peacewood: Well, there was a grave miscarriage of justice, so that feeling is expected.

    The police have a obligation to ensure the safety of anyone that they have taken into their custody. They failed to do so.




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  7. NW-Steve says:

    @Jack:

    In this case, there was no wrong doing, by any of the cops. The prosecutor tried to make a case of a “rough ride” and it was figuratively laughed out of court. This was by far the best case they has and it still flopped.

    Serious question.
    Can you offer us any explanation, no matter how speculative, by which a person handcuffed and under full police control suffered a fatal neck injury without some form of police misconduct.




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  8. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    This was a criminal trial, in which the standard of proof is the same that it would be for any other defendant – the establishment of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The police officers could conceivably be sued in civil court, presuming the veil of immunity is pierced, but the standard applied with respect to police negligence is gross negligence. The standard applied to most other defendants would be ordinary negligence.

    That having been said, the family almost certainly waived any claim against the officers / the police department / the city when they agreed to the settlement offer. This is what happens when a politically motivated prosecutor rushes a case to trial long before it’s ready to go there. Hate to say I told you so about this way back when, but I did. At this point it’s unlikely any of them will be convicted for anything.




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  9. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @NW-Steve:

    There are any number of hypotheticals which could be posed. She chose to charge him with a crime that requires the establishment of knowingly disregarding safety in clear knowledge of an established risk. She swung for the fences on a charge she should well have known she was nowhere close to being able to sufficiently substantiate and it cost her the verdict.




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  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Peacewood:

    He was charged by a African-American prosecutor and acquitted by a African-American judge. Just saying …




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  11. JKB says:

    Oh, this is far worse than being unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. There coroner has been shown to have lied about their original belief of this being a wrongful death. The Sheriff’s major that signed the charging affidavit now states he, nor the sheriff’s department, never conducted an investigation but rather he reviewed and swore based on evidence and investigation presented to him by the prosecutors. This puts those prosecutors who’ve already been called but exempted from testifying on the claim they were prosecutors, not the investigator, back at risk of being compelled to testify.

    All in all, it is looking more like perjury and suborning perjury are the only convictions possible and that is against the state prosecutors.




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  12. NW-Steve says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    There are any number of hypotheticals which could be posed.

    So pose one, please. I honestly can’t think of one.




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  13. JKB says:

    @HarvardLaw92: He was charged by a African-American prosecutor and acquitted by a African-American judge. Just saying …

    Didn’t we just go through a long blow up over how a judge’s (or prosecutor’s) race, ethnicity, national origin would not affect their decisions or bias toward or against a plaintiff or defendant? And that it was racist to imply otherwise?




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  14. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @NW-Steve:

    He was violently thrashing about and lost his footing during a normal turn. He was banging his head against the wall of the van. The possibilities go on and on, and in the absence of clear evidence, any of them are equally plausible.

    Indeed the judge discussed five of them in his ruling. It becomes a case of the state being essentially unable to establish what set of contributing factors caused his death.




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  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @JKB: read his original comment and get back to me the point was that racism was likely not involved, either in the decision to charge him or the decision to acquit him.




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  16. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Lit3Bolt: I’ll go with that. I think that having a black injuree helps, too, but I already know that I am a racist, so I don’t care what anyone says.




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  17. MarkedMan says:

    This is what I meant in another thread that this attitude of “if there is any possibility that their actions could be non-harmful, we are obligated to give them the benefit of the doubt” is just lawyers dancing on the head of the pin. This may be a legal requirement in a court, but it is not a requirement here. The idea that we should posit that Freddy Gray deliberately ran headlong into the side of the van and therefore killed himself, and give that supposition credit, beggars the imagination, when we know that the Baltimore Police Department was in the habit of giving rough rides. The fact that cops never, ever, ever admit that one of their own might be in the wrong means that we should be tossing aside any claims by cops that their guy is innocent. Not using those boilerplate statements to justify giving them the benefit of the doubt.

    The fact that a jury found OJ innocent doesn’t make you any less of a fool if you think he wasn’t guilty.




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  18. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Peacewood: It’s nothing that hasn’t happened a thousand times before in a thousand different places–millions of times if you count actually repressive regimes in other countries. The lesson to learn is that people who aren’t white still need to have “the talk” with their kids, and probably always will need to.




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  19. Bob@Youngstown says:

    @Jack:

    We may never learn how Freddie Gray broke his neck,

    Was his neck broken before he was put in the van? Was his neck broken when he was removed from the van? Was he is the exclusive custody of the police while in the van?

    IMO Grey’s custodian should be held to a higher standard of explanation then just….”well sh*t happens”

    @NW-Steve:

    without some form of police misconduct.

    …or neglect




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  20. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    when we know that the Baltimore Police Department was in the habit of giving rough rides

    Ay, there’s the rub.

    As best I can tell, the court deliberately averts its eyes from “what we know” about the habits of the Baltimore Police Department. If you can’t prove that THIS instance was one of those rough rides, then you got nothing. By trying every instance as if it happened in a vacuum, independent of all other police behaviors, you can essentially never rise to the level of proof required. Kind of like how failing to hire the black/female/gay job candidate can always be plausibly justified in every individual instance, even though you never ever hire a black or a woman or an LGBTQ.

    Is there something like RICO for public employees? That seems to be what’s needed, to be able to invoke the pattern of behavior as evidence.




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  21. JKB says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I read his original comment. Your comment implies that as the judge and prosecutor were both of his “interests” group there was on racism or other conflict of interest.

    But it also implies that had one or the other not been of the same African-American “interests” group that there would have been.




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  22. Guarneri says:

    Looks like “give’m a fair trial and hang him” prevails here.




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  23. Loviatar says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    You have Jack, JKB and Guarneri as fellow travelers on this case, so I thought this quote fit my sentiments.

    If you find yourself on the same side as appalling racists/ignorant patriots, you might ask yourself why, and additionally whether you might be more appalling and/or ignorant than you’d like to admit.




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  24. Barry says:

    Doug: “Since I didn’t follow the case in detail, I have to assume that Judge Williams’ evaluation of the evidence is an accurate one.”

    Actually, no, that is not true at all.




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  25. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Loviatar:

    No, I’m just arguing the law. She failed to make her case. In fact, she’s failed three times now in wholesale fashion, and if you go back, you’ll find that I told you long before today that this is exactly what would happen – that she rushed into a prosecution which wasn’t anywhere near ready for prime time and she was going to lose her pants for that reason. That’s not being racist. It’s acknowledging reality. Blame her if you’re upset with the rulings. She dropped the ball.

    You have people above actually arguing that individual officers should be convicted, despite a lack of any actual evidence, based on the perceived behavior of a group. WT actual F kind of crap is that? Hell, why not just organize a lynch mob if the legal process doesn’t matter to you and the result is all you care about. Seems to me that’s a great deal closer to how racists have behaved in this country than anything I’ve said on this thread.




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  26. Loviatar says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    No, I’m just arguing the law.

    No, you might have been able to make the case that you were just arguing the law if you hadn’t gone off on a racist rant when the case first broke.




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  27. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Loviatar:

    Is that your way of saying “I can’t refute your argument, so I’ll just attack you instead?”

    I’m underwhelmed. Even if I were the most virulent racist who ever lived – which I’m not – I would still be right about this train wreck of a prosecution and I would still be right about the law. I suspect that you know I’m right, which is why you aren’t making an effort to refute anything I’ve argued. If the only way that you have to cope with this fiasco of a prosecution is to lash out at the messenger, knock yourself out.

    But it sure says a great deal about the weakness and emotional basis of your argument (to the extent that you’ve even tried to offer one to begin with).

    Have a nice evening.




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  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    Given that the city has paid out millions to the family of the deceased, I think it is pretty clear that there was police liability.

    Actually, the city accepted general liability, but the agreement specifically absolved the police department of any liability in this matter and negated specific liability across the board. It was exceedingly premature in light of this spate of acquittals, and far beyond the state mandated cap on what Gray’s family could have expected to receive ($400,000) had they prevailed in a civil suit. The city paid the ludicrous amount that it paid solely because SRB decided to pay it and a board dominated by her staff rubber stamped it. As to why she’d make that choice, who can say? She’s a politician …




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  29. Lit3Bolt says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Did the DA mess up on charges?

    In your mind what should the prosecution have done? Did bringing the same charges to all six defendents make a difference?

    I mean, there’s a subtext here, with the prosecution wiffing so badly. Do you think criminal charges were inappropriate against the police?

    I think it’s just hard for anyone to prove malicious intent against police in America, no matter where you’re from.




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  30. Loviatar says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Is that your way of saying “I can’t refute your argument, so I’ll just attack you instead?”

    I’m not attacking you or trying to refute your argument, I’m just stating a fact. You went off on a racist rant when the Baltimore riots occurred this spring. So while you may actually be correct on the legality of the case, I can’t trust your analysis since race is a critical part of the case and you’ve been shown to be a racist




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  31. MarkedMan says:

    @DrDaveT:

    . If you can’t prove that THIS instance was one of those rough rides, then you got nothing.

    I actually think this is the right standard for a criminal case. My point is that the public doesn’t need to apply the same standard and shouldn’t.




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  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Loviatar:

    If you find yourself on the same side as appalling racists/ignorant patriots, you might ask yourself why, and additionally whether you might be more appalling and/or ignorant than you’d like to admit.

    That’s called guilt by association. The same standard applied in any number of other cases would appall us all. It’s the essence of McCarthyism. So let’s not adopt guilt by association simply because it suits us in the moment.




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  33. michael reynolds says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I agree.

    Had I been on the OJ jury I might well have voted to acquit – despite being quite sure in my own mind that he did it. There’s criminal law and then there’s people shooting the breeze on the internet.




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  34. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    She should have done a great deal more due diligence and determined what charges the evidence would actually support before even thinking about moving to seek indictments. BCP and the BCSAO leak like the Titanic, and it became clear early on that everybody was telling her that she didn’t have it yet. i said the same thing repeatedly back then on here as well.

    Part of being a prosecutor is having the professional judgment to understand what’s possible and what is a reach for the sky. She overreached, lain and simple. Whether that’s because she’s inept (which I don’t believe) or because she was more interested in advancing herself and her husband politically (which I do believe), she rolled the dice thinking she couldn’t lose.

    And she lost. Resoundingly. Just as she was told she would.




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  35. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Loviatar:

    Feel free to seek out whichever other attorneys or former prosecutors you like. They’ll tell you the same thing I’m telling you. You don’t have to like me to understand why i get paid what I’m paid – because when it comes to this arena I know what I’m talking about. The fact that you don’t like me doesn’t change that fact in the least.




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  36. Loviatar says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That’s called guilt by association.

    So sayeth the man calling for nuking some random middle eastern country, because of a terrorist attack in Paris.




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  37. michael reynolds says:

    @Loviatar:

    Yes, if you set aside the fact that there’s nothing “random” about retaliating against the capital city of a hostile foreign power. Unless you think bombing Berlin in 1944 was “random.”

    And if you then leap to the position that what we do overseas must meet the legal standards we apply to people in our own country. Gonna be kind of hard to do that, you know. What with our legal system only being in force within the United States.

    Your problem is that you aren’t very good at this, Goddess of Pain, at the give and take thing. You think you’re smarter than you are. HL92 actually is smart, and actually understands the law, and you’re flailing, reduced to McCarthyite bullying tactics – guilt by association, character assassination.

    Before you say things, why not ask yourself just how easy it will be for someone else to blow big, giant holes in your reasoning? You’d be less desperate to dig yourself out if you tried thinking things through.




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  38. Jack says:

    @Bob@Youngstown:

    IMO Grey’s custodian should be held to a higher standard of explanation then just….”well sh*t happens”

    People hang themselves while in custody all the time. I guess every warden, police officer, and corrections officer that had any contact with the hangee should be charged with negligence, huh?




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  39. Jack says:

    @Lit3Bolt: I guess Mosby needs to charge the police van as well since it was white. She might get a conviction on that one.




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  40. Jack says:

    @DrDaveT:

    If you can’t prove that THIS instance was one of those rough rides, then you got nothing.

    Yeah, that’s how the law works. It’s based solely upon what the defendants did in this case. Not some other defendants or not some other case. It sounds to me like being accused is all it should take for a conviction.




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  41. Loviatar says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, if you set aside the fact that there’s nothing “random” about retaliating against the capital city of a hostile foreign power.

    So please oh arbiter of nuclear war, which “hostile foreign power” are we at war with? Which foreign capital should we obliterate? Upon which foreign capital’s population should we rain bombs and nuclear hell? Come on now, lets hear it Mr. Gung Ho, Mr. John Wayne, who do you want us to drop a nuclear bomb on?

    —–

    reduced to McCarthyite bullying tactics – guilt by association, character assassination.

    Yes I am, especially when the group you’re associating with are these losers.

    – JKB, racist.

    – Jenos, racist.

    – Guarneri, racist.

    – Jack, bigot.

    I was raised by the old saying, you’re known by the company you keep. You’re a bigot and HL92 is a racist, the only difference between you two and JKB, Jenos, Jack and Guarneri is the fact that you’re both desperately still want to be seen as respectable men. Too bad for you.




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  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Jack:

    It’s based solely upon what the defendants did in this case.

    Exactly. And, in any part of reality not happening inside a courtroom, part of our understanding of what the defendants did in this case is an awareness of what the defendants tend to do, as a group, in lots of other cases.

    I find it amusing that you are making exactly the same argument that you reject, in its entirety, when it used to argue that a particular person with an Arabic surname might not have been acting out of religious motives.




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  43. Lit3Bolt says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    So they messed up on the charges, but not procedurally? Or both?




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  44. Gustopher says:

    @DrDaveT: Lately, it has been the Federal DOJ that has been applying the pressure to change patterns of misbehavior in local police departments.

    It’s generally of the form of a consent decree, and past wrongs are seldom prosecuted — but, if you place the goal of reducing future misbehavior over justice for past victims, it can be a step in the right direction.

    I would rather go a few steps further, and treat acts of police misconduct the way the FAA treats air safety — absolve individuals of legal culpability when they come forward, and work to create the guidelines and processes to reduce risk. I’ve basically given up on police getting convicted, and think most of the problems come from bad training and procedures anyway.




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  45. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Both. She overcharged with a bill that the available evidence couldn’t possibly support, and she granted immunity to one of the officers, then proceeded not to call him as a witness. He ended up testifying for the defense. We won’t even get into her making public speeches which called her impartiality into question long before she’d ever sought indictments. If it could be screwed up, she screwed it up in her handling of these cases. You could easily use this fiasco as a 1L criminal process class example of what not to do.

    Much of what you’re reading above proceeds from the assumption “police always = bad”. I won’t disagree that there are problems which need to be addressed in policing, both nationally and in Baltimore in the specific, but those are systemic problems which should properly be addressed from a regulatory and policy standpoint.

    What I can’t support is this apparent notion that we should be convicting individual police officers, despite a lack of evidence, because doing so is evidently seen as an expedient way to force desired change. To accept that is to accept throwing the entire basis of our criminal justice system under the bus in the name of an emotionally driven agenda. It’s “the ends justify the means” in the extreme.




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  46. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Loviatar:

    you’re both desperately still want to be seen as respectable men. Too bad for you.

    Not to burst your bubble, but this is strangers discussing ideas on the internet, who affect neither my income nor my professional health. What in the world ever gave you the idea that your opinion of me is remotely of any consequence to me? Dislike me? Oh well, I still pass go and I still collect my >$200.00. 🙄

    Given that we’re here to discuss ideas, and you evidently have nothing to contribute with regard to the actual topic or in refutation of what I’ve argued, I’ll take that as an admission that you dislike it, but either can’t or won’t refute it. In colloquial terms, that means I win. Thanks for playing …




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  47. Loviatar says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    What in the world ever gave you the idea that your opinion of me is remotely of any consequence to me?

    I know mine and the other Random Internet Guys (RIG) opinions doesn’t matter to you, but I’ll keep saying it anyway. You’re a rich, Harvard graduating, Wall Street working racist.

    So you lose.




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  48. Jack says:

    @Loviatar:

    racist

    Typical liberal. Throw the racist moniker at someone in order to shut them up. You couldn’t define racists if a Webster’s Dictionary hit you in the face.




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  49. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Loviatar:

    Say it all you like. Let me know when you get around to actually engaging the topic or making, you know, an actual argument. That’s the point when you might be interesting.




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  50. Moderate Mom says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Those that wanted the officer guilty are disregarding the video evidence presented by the defense. Almost all of the ride to the jail was caught by various entities security cameras and showed no rough ride. The prosecution had no answer for that, or the testimony of the other prisoner in the van that it was a smooth ride. He also testified that there was repeated banging against the wall and thought Grey was banging his head against wall of the van on purpose.




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  51. Loviatar says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    You know whats amusing about this case is that is the inverse of the OJ Simpson case. You have white people cheering an outcome they know is wrong, just because they see it as payback for a previous wrongdoing. It was wrong the first time and its wrong now.

    smh




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  52. JohnMcC says:

    @Moderate Mom: A few years ago I retired from a career in ICU nursing that specialized in neuro surgery and trauma. There are people who because of mental illness and moments of stress have thrown themselves against a wall and given themselves cervical fractures and spinal cord injuries. In the cases I knew anything about it required a running start. Having one’s feet planted and swinging one’s head into a barrier doesn’t do it.

    A spinal injury that would cause Mr Grey to stop breathing would have severed or partially severed his cord at the C-1/C-2 vertebrae and the only mechanism of injury that I can imagine caused him such an injury would have been the result of him falling backwards from a standing position and striking the base of his skull/top of his spine on a fairly sharp-edged object such as a bench. Being cuffed and shackled would obviously have something to do with that fall.

    To me the question in this narrow part of the case was what responsibility did Mr Grey have for his own safety in the back of a moving vehicle. If he had been sitting I don’t see how even a ‘rough ride’ could have given him a fatal blow which we called ‘hangman’s fracture’.

    I’m totally unqualified to discuss the legal aspects of the case. And in general I’m completely ready to believe that police violence and/or negligence had something to do with his death. But in my own analysis Mr Grey did not take the obvious precaution of sitting down.

    I can’t find much sympathy for anyone in this terrible situation except (as always) the family that has lost their loved one or the families of the policemen who’ve seen THEIR loved ones made national media figures.




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  53. MarkedMan says:

    @JohnMcC:

    But in my own analysis Mr Grey did not take the obvious precaution of sitting down.

    Freddie Grey was morbidly obese and (I believe) was handcuffed behind his back. If he was thrown onto the floor of the van, there was not much chance he could have gotten into his seat.

    If someone knows more about the handcuffs, please correct me if I’m wrong.




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  54. JohnMcC says:

    @MarkedMan: From the pictures I’ve seen Mr Grey doesn’t seem remarkably obese. I wasn’t sure I was correct about this so googled ‘picture Freddy Grey’. Try it yourself. I did in fact mention that he was cuffed and I think I recall his ankles were also shackled. Don’t see how that effects the mechanism of injury that would produce a ‘hangman’s fracture’. Any ‘lower’ cervical injury would have left Mr Grey with enough respiratory drive to survive for several hours.

    Being cuffed behind one’s back doesn’t make sitting on a bench or seat impossible.




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  55. JohnMcC says:

    @JohnMcC: Oops! “…sitting of a bench or THE FLOOR…”




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  56. Moderate Mom says:

    @MarkedMan: Just looked at a photo of Freddy Gray being loaded into the van by the police officers. He is of normal build and, while he is handcuffed, his feet are not shackled. Given that, he could have easily stood up in the van, or sit on the bench. The bottom line is that the Prosecution couldn’t prove their case and the officer was found not guilty of all charges.

    Given that Ms. Mosby is now 0 for 3, perhaps her office needs to rethink the remaining trials and whether or not it’s worth wasting taxpayer dollars on any more trials. If they couldn’t get a single verdict against the driver of the van, the odds of obtaining a conviction against any of the others are pretty slim.




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  57. bill says:

    mosby’s putting on a show to keep the locals from burning down the town- it’s pretty simple. the judge does his best not to laugh at the prosecution but his tongue must be bleeding by then end of the day.
    freddie gray was a loser drug dealer who by all means should not have been breathing free air. he was known to try and hurt himself in custody and finally out-did himself. early on they silenced the witness who just happened to be in the van…..but they got him to speak and he essentially said the same thing. just a huge waste of time/money on someone who wasn’t worth it. his family made out pretty good though- kinda sad as their “parenting” failed freddie early on…..




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  58. Tyrell says:

    @Gustopher: I make “wide turns” sometimes for various reasons. Yet I don’t think anyone would consider it reckless driving.




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