Charges Against Baltimore Officers Called Rare, Risky To Prove


The decision of Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby to file charges of murder and false imprisonment against police officers in the death of Freddie Gray was bold and novel, but some legal analysts said they will be challenging to prove in court, the Baltimore Sun reports. “She has overcharged,” said defense attorney Steven Levin, a former federal prosecutor. As a result, Mosby could lose credibility with a jury, making it more difficult to obtain a conviction on any charge. Other attorneys disagreed, saying it was impossible to judge the strength of Mosby’s case without seeing the evidence. Defense attorney A. Dwight Pettit said the prosecutor “is going to have a rough road to travel,” but he believes the charges are reasonable. “At least the public will be able to see that battled out in the courtroom,” he said. “For the first time, it is not swept under the rug.” Mosby said police should not have arrested Gray. She said the 25-year-old man died of injuries he suffered during the van ride to a police station.

The case could take more than a year to go to trial or for the sides to come to a plea agreement. Attorneys predicted the proceedings would be moved out of Baltimore, because it would be nearly impossible to find jurors who have not been affected by the death of Gray or by the protests and riots that have followed. Analysts said the filing of such serious charges against police in the performance of their duty is rare. In addition to the murder and false imprisonment charges, four of the officers are accused of manslaughter. Philip Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University, said, “I can’t think of any situation like this where six officers get indicted where there’s these kinds of charges in one setting. It’s kind of like the curtain has been pulled back with videos.”

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