“I’m not saying you did anything nefariously, I’m saying you don’t know what exculpatory means.”
—- Judge Barry G. Williams, presiding in the Baltimore trial of Officer Caesar Goodson Jr for his alleged role in the death of Freddie Gray, excoriating the prosecution for illegally withholding Brady evidence from the defense.
There is more evidence that the Baltimore prosecution of six police officers for the death of Freddie Gray a year ago is less a matter of seeking justice than it is a sacrificial offering of innocent law enforcement professionals to avoid civil unrest.
I have already chronicled the disturbing pattern of the prosecution in this case, where premature and dubious charges were brought against the officers in the wake of destructive rioting and threats from African-American activists. Now it appears that a statement supporting the officers by Donta Allen, the man sharing the police van with Gray—who ended his trip fatally injured—was never made available to the defense. Because the statement was potentially supportive of the officers in their defense, the material had to be handed over by prosecutors under the Supreme Court decision in Brady v. Maryland, the landmark 1963 case holding in 1963 that “the suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to an accused upon request violates due process where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment, irrespective of the good faith or bad faith of the prosecution.”
There were only two people present during Ray’s final ride, other than Gray himself: Goodson, the driver, and Donta Allen, another arrested subject who was separated from Gray by a thin metal screen.
Allen has made wildly conflicting statements about what transpired. He initially told police that Gray was “trying to knock himself out” in the back of the van, then later denied that statement to the news media. However, Allen had a second session with police investigators a year ago, shortly after the charges against the officers were brought by City Attorney Marilyn Mosely. In that meeting, Allen reiterated and confirmed his original statement that suggested Gray was trying to injure himself. Prosecutors never brought his second statement to the attention of the defense.