A sad spectacle in Baltimore is ending
On April 12, 2015, Baltimore, Maryland, police arrested 25-year-old Freddie Gray on a charge of possessing an illegal switchblade knife. He was placed into the back of a police van, where he fell into a coma. He died in a hospital seven days later, of injuries to his spinal cord.
Some in the community said Gray died from the mistreatment by police. The fact he was a young black man may have played a part in his death, some said.
Baltimore Prosecuting Attorney Marilyn Mosby agreed immediately with that assessment, saying she would bring the police officers involved to justice. She filed charges against them quickly.
A grand jury indicted the officers, but that was the last of Mosby’s successes. One officer’s trial ended in a mistrial. Three others were acquitted.
Now, Mosby has dropped charges against the two other officers. After doing so, she held a press conference to lay blame for the fact not a single officer was convicted.
Police did not investigate the case properly, Mosby said. The judge would not have convicted the officers, she said. The law needs to be changed, she added.
Everyone involved – except her – was to blame, Mosby alleged.
One thing about the case seems very clear: Gray was healthy enough to try to run away from the officers who arrested him. But after being placed in the police van, he sustained injuries that proved fatal.
It also seems obvious none of the officers intended to kill Gray. Yet Mosby accused some of them of that, in charges that included manslaughter and second-degree murder.
It does not seem to have occurred to Mosby that her own zeal and rush to judgment may have had an effect on the outcome. Had she sought convictions on more realistic charges -criminal negligence resulting in death, for example – something different might have happened.
Baltimore police still may punish the officers for actions or lack of them that contributed to Gray’s death. But Mosby is the prosecutor – and should not be let off the hook by the public for botching the case.