Mistrial In The First Freddie Gray Trial: There’s No Way Out Of This Ethics Train Wreck

Judge Declares Mistrial In First Freddie Gray Trial

In Baltimore this week, a judge declared a mistrial in the case of Baltimore Police Officer William G. Porter after jurors said they were deadlocked regarding all of the charges against him in the death of Freddie Gray. Porter, 26 and an African American, is the first of six police officers to be tried in Gray’s death. He has been charged with with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Street protests began almost immediately.

Let’s review this disaster so far, shall we?

In April, while the Ferguson-sparked furor against police departments was already at fever pitch, Baltimore police roughly arrested a career petty criminal named Freddie Gray, who was videoed screaming as he was cuffed and thrown into a police van. Soon Gray was dead, his spine and neck fractured after an alleged rough ride during which he was not strapped down for safety. (Protesters had already concluded that the arrest was the cause of Gray’s injuries, because Gray was screaming and he had to be dragged. No. Freddie apparently had a habit of feigning injury, and there was no evidence that he was really injured during the arrest.) Allegedly Gray asked for medical assistance during one of the truck’s stops, and was denied. At the trial testimony suggested that this was also a trick of Freddie’s, who was arrested a lot. If a prisoner credibly claims he is ill or injured, he has to be taken to the hospital.

Before any thorough investigation could be completed, black activist anti-police protests with a chanted “No Justice, No Peace” refrain turned into rioting, as the mobs attacked police cars, looted and committed arson. The city’s medical examiner initially ruled Gray’s death accidental, then changed his assessment to homicide—under official pressure, some believe. The city’s ambitious young African American attorney, Marilyn Mosby, dramatically announced that all six of the arresting officers involves were being indicted for murder, in a statement that appeared to be an attempt to mollify the rioters as well as to side with them. “I heard your call for ‘no justice, no peace,’” she said. “Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.”

It was a spectacularly unethical performance.

Many experts, including defense attorney and Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, condemned the indictments as politically motivated and based on inadequate evidence. Mosby, however was hailed as a hero, and not coincidentally, her City Council member husband was now well poised to run for mayor when the current mayor announced that she was stepping down as a result of the Gray affair. He announced his candidacy in October, with heroic Marilyn at his side.

Part of the Gray controversy, an expensive part, was that the city virtually admitted that the police were at fault before any trial had been held or lawsuit filed, paying Gray’s family an out of court $6.4 million settlement that, the mayor said, did not acknowledge any wrongdoing on the part of the officers. Right. Whether or not the settlement was an official admission of guilt, it was a symbolic under-the-bus-toss for the officers charged, either designed to maximize the chances of their convictions or as anti-riot insurance. Indeed the  main lesson of the Freddie Gray affair is that Black Riots Matter, at least when biased and pusillanimous city leaders are the targets.  “This day means that your actions bring consequences in Baltimore City,” one of the protest leaders shouted to the crowd, among them rioters from the days previous, as Mosby announced her charges.

Yes, they sure do.

As Dershowitz foretold, this first of the six trials did not go well for the prosecution. The least involved of the seven officers, Porter was tried first, the theory goes, so he could be used as a witness against the other officers after he was found guilty.

The big revelation during the trial was that Gray had told an officer that he sustained a back injury a month prior to the arrest, and Mosby withheld that fact from the defense. The judge declined to declare a mistrial as the defense requested, but ruled that the prosecution had committed a discovery violation.

Trial reports also suggest that the evidence is thinner than thin. For example…

  • The medical examiner’s conclusion that Gray’s death was a homicide was based on evidence that also would be consistent with an accident.
  • There is no evidence of a motive for the killing, or an intent to kill. The presumed motive in Ferguson cases is racial animus, and that is especially hard to prove when the accused is black, like Porter.
  • The state has to show the officers knew or should have known that not strapping in Gray for the van ride was likely to cause grave injury or death.The evidence showed that it was common practice to do this, and Gray was the first person to die as a result (though not the first to be injured). A new policy had gone into effect requiring seat-belting arrestees shortly before Gray’s arrest, but it was unclear which, if any, of the seven officers knew about it.
  • A prisoner in the van with Gray initially testified that he had been standing and banging his head against the sides of the van, apparently trying to injure himself. Then the prisoner recanted.
  • There was no evidence that Gray’s ride was unusually or intentionally rough, just that Baltimore police have given intentional “rough rides” in the past.
  • The case against Porter, other than the fact that Moseby was determined to charge all seven officers, was that he was asked by Gray for medical attention after Gray was injured, and Porter refused. But there was testimony that Gray was asking for medical help almost from the beginning of the trip—again, his modus operandi.
  • Doctors testified that Gray’s injuries would have prevented Gray from speaking, making the claim that Porter contributed to his death by not getting him treatment fast enough unsustainable.

In other words, there’s reasonable doubt everywhere. It is hard to see how homicide charges could be justified or proven against anyone other than the driver (who is black) and the officer in charge (also black), and even this is dubious.

Never mind all that, though: the point is to lump this case with Ferguson and others in which the Black Lives Matter narrative of racist cops killing unarmed black men can be claimed and chanted for political gain. The immediate reaction to the mistrial was back to Facts Don’t Matter, as in “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!”

“This hung jury does not mean it’s the end of Officer Porter’s case,” Gray family’s attorney Billy Murphy said. “It’s just a bump on the road to justice. And you know the road to justice has a lot of bumps.”

Wait—doesn’t justice mean finding out what happened and whether the accused parties are guilty of a crime? Not in these race operas, it doesn’t. “Justice” is defined as  “a black man was killed, and a police officer, preferably white, has to be destroyed in retribution.”

“I’m stunned. I’m speechless,” another protester said after the mistrial.When are we going to get justice?” Strange—the justice system isn’t about awarding results to uninvolved parties who have a partisan rooting interest based on bias and want a particular result. Does this individual know what happened in that van? No. So how does she know what justice is?

Simple: justice is a political victory that advances the narrative that there is a race war being waged by the white power structure against blacks.

Thanks to that mutated, ugly, racist, undemocratic definition of justice, the threat of riots and violence hangs over Baltimore, for as the protesters chanted in May, “No justice, no peace.” Six trials to go, six potential riots. Likely riots. Or just one big one.

I don’t know why Mosby and the mayor just don’t hand the seven accused police officers over to the mob now and get it all over with in one bloodbath. It will save time and money, and the definition of justice being sold by Black Lives Matter and the rest doesn’t include facts, evidence, juries, judges, due process or reasonable doubt standards anyway. Justice is whites and police being punished for the deaths of black criminals, regardless of the circumstances.

__________________________

Pointer: Althouse

Sources:  Baltimore Sun 1, 2; The Daily Beast,

 

16 thoughts on “Mistrial In The First Freddie Gray Trial: There’s No Way Out Of This Ethics Train Wreck

  1. Sounds like Freddie Gray may have been a walking talking version of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”, but of course in the minds of those that want to illogically blame the police for everything, Freddie Gray deserves absolutely no responsibility for any of his own actions that lead to his own death.

    Our society is on the verge of a freaking meltdown. The next 10 years are going to be “interesting”.

    • Yes, thank you, I intended to mention the BWCW, then moved on without following through. That’s exactly what it sounds like. To be fair, Freddie was apparently brain damaged by lead-paint poisoning.

  2. Travon Martin case all over again. Politically motivated indictment backed up by weak and even exculpatory evidence. Very predictable results.

  3. Not to worry, the Feds will just try him for civil rights violations. If the local jury won’t deliver justice it’s up to Loretta Lynch and the Justice Department to do it.

      • It begins to make sense if, as Jack mentions, the purpose of bringing a black cop to trial first was as a means of eliciting his co-operation in nailing the white cops involved in return for a lighter sentence. It sounds like an M.O. for a corrupt, race baiting city attorney with political aspirations.

  4. One wonders how the city arrived at the $6.4 million as a measure of damages? And that settlement occurred rather quickly, it seems to me. Would not the wiser course have been to wait until the criminal aspect of this situation was over? Or was the city trying to bribe (a la Mary Jo Kopeckne) the decedent’s family into being quiet and going away?

      • One wonders how the city arrived at the $6.4 million as a measure of damages?

        The city had previously paid around $6 million to other victims of “rough rides.” :

        …Gray is not the first person to come out of a Baltimore police wagon with serious injuries.

        Relatives of Dondi Johnson Sr., who was left a paraplegic after a 2005 police van ride, won a $7.4 million verdict against police officers. A year earlier, Jeffrey Alston was awarded $39 million by a jury after he became paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a van ride. Others have also received payouts after filing lawsuits.

        For some, such injuries have been inflicted by what is known as a “rough ride” — an “unsanctioned technique” in which police vans are driven to cause “injury or pain” to unbuckled, handcuffed detainees, former city police officer Charles J. Key testified as an expert five years ago in a lawsuit over Johnson’s subsequent death.

        http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-gray-rough-rides-20150423-story.html

        • Both of these make more sense than the settlement with Gray. Although it is ironic that an injury case is worth more than a wrongful death case, the injury victims, who suffered catastrophic injuries requiring ongoing medical care, would be compensated for those expected medical expenses for their life expectancy, which would be an enormous portion of the potential damages. A wrongful death victim doesn’t have ongoing medical expenses, their damages are based on what they would have earned had they lived.

          • Both of these make more sense than the settlement with Gray. Although it is ironic that an injury case is worth more than a wrongful death case, the injury victims, who suffered catastrophic injuries requiring ongoing medical care, would be compensated for those expected medical expenses for their life expectancy, which would be an enormous portion of the potential damages. A wrongful death victim doesn’t have ongoing medical expenses, their damages are based on what they would have earned had they lived.

            This is not a verdict, but a settlement, where each side might have their own reasons for how they come up their numbers.

            With that said, I don’t necessarily disagree with your statements, just noting in my previous post that this is probably how the lawyers came up with the ballpark figures for settlement. Also note that the Garner and Scott cases also came in around the $5-6 million dollar mark, so it seems to be the de facto nationally accepted figure for wrongful death payments in police abuse allegation cases.

  5. The most racist part of this whole thing was the settlement. Damages for wrongful death are normally calculated based on what the decedent would have earned over the course of his projected life. Gray was, as you mentioned, a petty criminal, and I have also heard had a drug problem. Barring a miraculous turnaround, he probably never would have sniffed a million dollars.

    In addition to those damages, of course, sometimes punitive damages may be awarded, which in some circumstances can lead to pretty outrageous judgments for outrageous conduct. Whether or not the conduct in this case justified punitives, though, they aren’t available against the government, and as far as I know aren’t available against those who are performing their work for the government either (although even if it were, it is unlikely the six cops make enough money to justify such a steep punitive award against them).

    I have also heard, though not confirmed, that Maryland caps either damages or settlements in wrongful death suits against municipalities at 350,000.

    Long story short, any attorney who advised the city that it was exposed for more than a few hundred thousand dollars is an idiot. So of the 6 m. dollar settlement, a solid 95% of it was an award for race rioting. Had Gray been white, his family would have been given a pittance in comparison.

  6. I find the crusader’s hubby using this to propel his mayoral aspirations to be the worst conflict of interest. Throwing the polices in front of the mob and rioters and USING the lynch mob for knee-jerk votes? That’s so manipulative it becomes evil.

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