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Baltimore Braces As Freddie Gray Murder Trials Begin

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The 6 Officers Accused in the Freddie Gray Murder Case
The 6 Officers Accused in the Freddie Gray Murder Case

Baltimore  residents,  police and city officials collectively hold their  breaths and hope  for the best as the first of the officers indicted in the murder of  Freddie Gray  goes on trial. Gray, 25, an unarmed black man, was taken into police  custody for what Maryland State Attorney, Marilyn Mosby called a “legal knife.” Before he could be booked he  would be rushed to the hospital in a coma. His  death  in police custody came at a time when the nation was already a powder keg waiting to  explode following  similar deaths or unarmed black at the hands of those sworn to protect them.

Bystanders  recorded Gray’s arrest as  police tackled him, cuffed him and then dragged him to a police van screaming with his  feet  barely touching the ground. Against Baltimore City Police Department policy he was placed in the back of the police van unsecured. At least twice during the ride to the police station  the van was stopped and  officers  opened the  door of the van to  cuff Mr. Gray’s legs and again to secure another suspect. At least twice, according to official  documents he  asked for medical assistance, which he never  received. By the time he arrived at the western  District station he was in cardiac  arrest and transported to the emergency room where it was discovered that he had a severe spinal injury. A week Later he was  dead, never having regained consciousness.

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His death fanned the flames of a long  standing tension  between the  residents of  Baltimore  City, many black and it’s police officers. Cries of unfair treatment and excessive force were already rampant in Baltimore. A week of protests preceded his funeral and on April 27th just hours after his burial, a  riot unlike anything the city has seen since the death of Dr. Martin Luther King in the 60’s broke out. Hundreds of business were looted and destroyed. Some were even set ablaze. The city was in chaos for four days.

On May 1st Maryland States Attorney, Marilyn Mosby announced charges against the 6 officers who had interaction  with Freddi Gray from the time of his arrest until the time he was transported to the hospital. The officers indicted were William Porter, Caesar Goodson, Alicia White, Brian Rice, Edward Nero and Garret Miller.

Maryland States Attorney  Marilyn Mosby in her prepared statement gave a complete timeline of the facts she knew off Mr. Grays arrest from  the time he was stopped until he was transported to the hospital.

Mr. Gray started the fateful ride on the floor of the police van, Ms. Mosby said. A short time later, Officer Goodson “proceeded to the back of the wagon in order to observe Mr. Gray. At no point did he seek, nor did he render, any medical help for Mr. Gray,” Ms. Mosby said.A few blocks later, he called a dispatcher to say that he needed help checking on his prisoner. Another officer arrived, and the back of the van was opened. “Mr. Gray at that time requested help and indicated that he could not breathe,” and asked twice for a medic, Ms. Mosby said. While the officers helped him onto the bench in the back of the van, she said, they still did not belt him in. While they were there, she said, a call went out for a van to pick up and transport another person who had been arrested. “Despite Mr. Gray’s obvious and recognized need for assistance, Officer Goodson, in a grossly negligent manner,” answered that call, rather than seeking medical help, Ms. Mosby said. At the van’s next stop, Officer Goodson met the officers who made the initial arrest, and a sergeant who had arrived on the scene. Opening the van once again, they “observed Mr. Gray unresponsive on the floor of the wagon,” Ms. Mosby said. The sergeant, she said, spoke to the back of Mr. Gray’s head, but he did not respond. “She made no effort to look, or assess, or determine his condition,” Ms. Mosby said. When the van finally arrived at the Western District police station and officers tried to remove him, “Mr. Gray was no longer breathing at all,” she said. A medic was summoned and found Mr. Gray in cardiac arrest. Then he was rushed to a hospital.

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screen grab Freddie Gray arrest video

Screen grab Freddie Gray arrest video

Officer  William  Porter is the  first to go on  trial and  faces charges of  Reckless Endangerment, Involuntary Manslaughter, Second-Degree Assault and Misconduct in  Office. He has plead  guilty and is out on $350,00 bond.

There is a  gag  order keeping  prosecutors and defense attorneys from speaking to the media  about the case. Reporters will have a time on their hands  breaking  news as cameras and recording devices are not allowed in the courtroom. Reporters will be allowed to take notes but will not be able to share information until they reach a designated media  room or go outside. Fox News, CNN and  MSNBC are among some of the networks sending reporters and  camera crews to Baltimore.

Today begins the  first  phase of  the  trial, jury selection. There have  been  questions as to whether the officers can receive a  fair trial in Baltimore. Defense attorneys  motioned to have the  trial moved but  were denied  by Judge Barry Williams. In a rare move however, he  did grant the impending  jurors anonymity. Anonymous  juries are very rare, the first documented case was a drug conspiracy case in the late 1970’s in  New York. In cases like those the  authorities were concerned about the safety of the jurors and their families. In today’s society, the ease of access to personal information  via social  networks  underscores the  emphasis on  giving  jurors anonymity  in such  high profile cases.

William Porter’s trial marks the first of the criminal proceedings in the Freddi Gray case. The  city  of Baltimore, however, decided to skip a wrongful death suit and settled with the family. In September Baltimore City settled with the family of Freddie Gray for $6.4 Million .

Judge Barry , Williams is  no stranger to police  misconduct cases. before he was the judge overseeing the Freddie Gray trials, Barry G. Williams investigated and prosecuted police misconduct cases across the country for the federal government. As a former prosecutor he has prosecuted and convicted officers for misconduct in Missouri, Florida and The Virgin Islands just to name a few places. “His expertise in all aspects of investigating, prosecuting these kinds of cases is certainly an advantage” in the Gray case, Molloy said. “I don’t know anybody better suited for this trial.” Douglas Molloy, a former federal prosecutor who worked with Judge Williams  in Florida. Williams joined the Justice Department in 1997, first as a trial attorney in the criminal section of the Civil Rights Division, then rising to the position of special litigation counsel, a supervisory role in the unit. Judge Williams was  appointed  to  his current position in 2007 and later voted in.

No matter what happens now that this first trial has started, Baltimore residents and the  eyes of the world alike are on this courthouse. Whether in favor of the  officers or  demanding answers  on what happened to Freddie Gray everyone is hoping for the same thing, Justice.

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Melony Hill
Thinker, Avid Reader, Couch Potato. Sapphire Hill is a writer from Baltimore Maryland who loves to delve deeper into the whys of everything. Staff writer for 86 Blvd and Badd Magazine. Blogger and talent promoter for Sapphire Spotlight On Talent.

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