Yes, the mysterious death of Freddie Gray from injuries he sustained while in the custody of the Baltimore police has now become a certified Ethics Alarms Ethics Train Wreck. That honor was guaranteed once Baltimore’s mayor started stumbling over her words and meaning and then blaming others; when looters and rioters began burning down stores and a seniors home; when the finger-pointing began and when shameless Republicans started politicizing the riots, notably Texas Congressman Bill Flores (R-TX) who somehow reasoned that the Baltimore riots prove the dangers of gay marriage.
Most of all, a train wreck rating was guaranteed once the African-American activist response to Gray’s murder, inflamed by incompetent handling of the incident by the Baltimore police department, exactly followed the script of the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck. Gray’s death was pronounced a murder and the police response a racist cover-up before all the facts were known or even knowable. Never mind: “Black Lives Matter” signs were paraded on the streets, and columnists and news reporters began telling the story as if Gray was—not might have been, not probably was, but was—just another in the long line of young black men murdered by the police. After all, we had the recent Walter Scott shooting, captured on video, to justify a presumption of racism and murder.
But a presumption of racism and murder, absent proof, is never justified. It isn’t allowed in court, and it isn’t ethical out of court. Never mind: that’s where we now are with Freddie Gray and Baltimore. Maybe this isn’t a new Ethics Train Wreck. Maybe it’s just the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, just rolling on.
As with Mike Brown (and Trayvon Martin’s death) , the underlying narrative of the protests over Freddie Gray’s death appears to be less certain than it originally appeared. The Washington Post reports that a prisoner who was in the police van with Freddie Gray says he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle, suggesting that Gray “was intentionally trying to injure himself.” The prisoner’s statement is contained in an affidavit that’s part of an application by the police for search warrant seeking the seizure of the uniform worn by one of the officers involved in Gray’s arrest. If that account has any credibility at all, it could result in a prosecutor’s legitimate refusal to indict any officers. Continue reading