This isn’t the same evidence you’ve heard over and over and over and…
Closing arguments in the Brian Rice trial were a virtual copy of the closings and general arguments in the Nero and Goodson trials. Lacking any actual evidence of crimes, particularly those the prosecution lodged against Rice, the prosecution final argument is essentially that anyone that disagrees with them is evil and murderous, and common sense! Freddie Gray! He’s black! And just as in the previous trials that ended in acquittal, Judge Barry Williams’ questions to the prosecution suggest he isn’t buying those same, failed arguments.
The state argued that Rice, as the shift commander, should have been aware of the dangers in which Gray was placed after he was arrested and put in the van without being seat belted.
In her closing arguments, prosecutor Janice Bledsoe said Rice had a duty to ensure the safety of Gray.
‘Lt. Rice’s decisions cannot be be blamed on poor judgment or error,’ Bledsoe said. ‘It was an intentional act that started a chain leading to the death of Freddie Gray.
Uh-huh. All that is lacking is even a molecule of evidence to prove that Rice intended to kill Freddie Gray, and that any reasonable person would know that not using a seat belt, which can be opened by a prisoner at will, would inevitably–there being no other possibility–lead to Gray’s death by a freak spinal cord injury. After all, every prisoner ever transported by the Baltimore Police without being seat belted suffered catastrophic injuries, except not only is there no proof of this, the facts prove that hundreds of thousands of people transported seatbeltless suffered not so much as bruised feelings.
Prosecutors contend that Gray suffered his injuries sometime between the second and fourth stops made by the van before it arrived at the Western District police station. The state also pointed out that assistant medical examiner Dr. Carol Allan ruled Gray’s death a homicide.
What’s amazing, and what should cause the head prosecutor of any prosecutor’s office to doubt the sanity and competence of any deputy prosecutor that tries it, is using the same arguments not backed by fact or evidence, that have already been discarded by the judge, and utterly failed in two previous trials.
She [prosecutor Janice Bledsoe] said Rice had every reason to be aware of the new seat belt policy that had come down just days before Gray’s fateful arrest. She said a reasonable police officer in Rice’s position would follow the commissioner’s memorandum, and that a reasonable officer wouldn’t “act like a jerk when a citizen complains.”
‘If you believe the two citizens [Brandon Ross and Jamell Baker], then you will find Lt. Rice guilty,’ Bledsoe said.
Bledsoe is tripling down on a failed argument twice ruled nonsense by the same judge. And by all means, believe Ross and Baker, petty criminals trying to incite a riot over Gray’s arrest. They’re the most believable people around, particularly when compared with police officers. BPD officers are surely taking notice of the Prosecutor’s urging a judge to believe street thugs over them, particularly when there is no evidence whatever to support Ross or Baker.
Rice’s defense team countered that Gray was injured after the fourth of six stops made by the van and that Rice had no contact with Gray at that point of the trip. The defense called witnesses who testified that Gray’s death should have been ruled an accident.
‘(Rice) was professional, correct, right and reasonable,’ defense attorney Michael Belsky said.
Unlike the Prosecution’s case, there is credible evidence to prove these defense assertions, evidence already accepted by Judge Williams in the prior trials.
Belsky said the state did not ask one witness whether Rice’s actions on the day of Gray’s arrest were unreasonable because they would not be able to find someone to say so.
The defense added that what happened to Gray was ‘anything but foreseeable.’
‘The state did not prove through facts or evidence that a crime occurred,’ Belsky said.
Consider the mental gymnastics anyone would have to perform to buy the Prosecution version of common sense: The reasonable person would have to immediately apprehend, after cuffing a resisting and uncooperative Gray hand and foot and laying him on his stomach on the floor of the van, that doing that, more specifically, not sitting him up and using a seat belt, would surely cause him to stand up, beat himself against the walls of the van, and somehow lose his balance, even though there would be no “rough ride,” nearly severing his spine. The reasonable person would have to ignore the hundreds of thousands transported without a seat belt and without injury. They would have to ignore that even handcuffed, anyone can open a seatbelt at will.
Belsky is correct, as the lying Dr. Carol Allan was correct before Marilyn Mosby “persuaded” her to change her mind: Gray died by his own hand in an entirely unforeseeable freak accident. Belsky is also correct that the state did not for a second prove any crime.
Both sides in their closing arguments tried to paint different pictures of what occurred the morning of Gray’s arrest. The state used CCTV video and images and cell phone photos to disprove the defense’s claim that there was a chaotic scene with residents surrounding the officers while Gray was being combative.
‘Lt. Rice had the power and control to punish and humiliate Freddie Gray for saying his handcuffs were too tight, screaming ‘aaah and yo get off me.
Once again, the State introduced no evidence whatever that Rice intended to “punish and humiliate Freddie Gray,” or that he actually did.
The defense highlighted testimony from Officers Edward Nero, William Porter and Zachary Novak along with transcripts of cell phone videos where people can be hurt yelling obscenities and threats to police.
Williams questioned both sides during closing arguments, this included an exchange with Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow, who handled the rebuttal.
‘You’re saying failing to restrain equals a criminal act ?’ Williams said. ‘Failing to seat belt is a crime?”
Schatzow responded by saying not seat belting Gray, combined with the totality of other events led to his death, which should be considered a crime.
‘What happened happened because (Rice’s) actions were unreasonable,’ Schatzow said.
Here we see the prosecutors twisting the law into a pretzel to get to a desired outcome. Remember, gentle readers, Judge Williams has already ruled not using a seat belt is not a crime. Officer Nero and Officer Goodson committed no crime; how then does Schatzow–and of course, Mosby–think the same situation yields a crime in this trial?
Again, BPD officers must be outraged at Schatzow. Officers do not wait until bystanders actually start attacking them. They leave as soon as they can safely do so. They leave before things become dangerous, at the first sign of trouble. Failing to do that would demonstrate rank incompetence or a dangerous desire to provoke a riot, yet here is Schatzow suggesting that officers should have hung around, taking more and more abuse, until more criminals showed up, and emboldened by the officer’s lack of authority and responsibility, attacked them.
(The state’s) position is almost strict liability,’ said defense attorney Warren Brown, a courtroom observer who is not connected with the case. “No matter what because he didn’t belt him, he committed a criminal act. The judge just wasn’t feeling that at all.
As I noted in Update 35.4, the Prosecution is essentially arguing a tort, a civil case, and trying to call it a crime, yet they lack even the evidence to prove a civil wrong.
Even NBC, which is hardly a conservative, pro-police network, is sounding almost rational:
In this case, it would have been a much better idea if an independent prosecutor was brought in,’ said David Jaros, a professor at University of Baltimore Law School. When a case is this political and it’s difficult to discern political concerns from the merits of the case, bringing an outside party who is dispassionate and removed from the situation is beneficial, he said.
This might sound reasonable, but there are many inherent problems that might well make things worse rather than better. More on that later.
And with each trial, the curtain has been pulled back, further revealing how broken down the relationship between Baltimore prosecutors and police has become since State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s decision to charge six officers in the death of Freddie Gray.
Mosby’s decision not only to prosecute these officers but to have her office undertake the investigation and trial was seen by legal experts as highly unusual.
It’s also a decision many viewed with skepticism due to the inherent conflict of interest of going after police who are often seen as partners in law enforcement.
The relationship is broken because of the unnecessary and vilely hateful and insulting behavior of Michael Schatzow and Janice Bledsoe. This entire mess is seen as highly unusual because it is highly unusual, and foolish.
The working relationship between the police and prosecutors is usually tight and the offices frequently rely on one another as allies to undertake the nitty gritty of crime fighting.
‘They are on the same team’ and are ‘working towards the same overall goal,’ says David Gray, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. Officers investigate cases and bring them to the prosecutors to take to court, he said.
But in this case ‘natural allegiances became reversed and those who are normally aligned found themselves on opposite sides,’ Gray said.
When it comes to police misconduct cases, ‘one tool is to ask for an independent prosecutor’ so that local prosecutors can take themselves out of a highly political equation, Gray said. An equation that can not only give the perception of bias but one that can also sour a working relationship.
In this case, the working relationship between the police and prosecutor’s office is utterly destroyed, and the police have done nothing to contribute to that destruction. As every trial to date has clearly demonstrated, the officers are not only not guilty, but innocent. They did nothing that thousands of other officers have not done–reasonably, lawfully and correctly–in the past.
This became clear in the Goodson trial when Schatzow cross-examined the lead detective in Gray’s death, Dawnyell Taylor.
His first question was if she had a problem with prosecutor Janice Bledsoe, who was also trying the case. Schatzow went on to accuse Taylor of “sabotaging” their case by fabricating notes that would help the defense.
Taylor fired back by questioning not only the prosecutor’s ‘integrity’ but also calling out prosecutor Bledsoe, for ‘acting like a child’ throwing a ‘tantrum’ and ‘storming out of the room’ during a meeting where the two were supposed to share evidence.
Regular readers of the Gray archive know that there is ample evidence to back Taylor’s assertions, which were not in any way challenged in court. Taylor didn’t say a public word until first attacked in court by Schatzow. In fact, Bledsoe behaved in a decidedly juvenile fashion in court, and it was revealed that she refused to accept evidence contrary to the prosecution narrative from Taylor. The prosecution then tried to blame Taylor for Bledsoe’s lack of ethics.
Prosecutor Janice Bledsoe cross-examined Officer Zachary Novak on whether there was a crowd on the scene when he arrived as backup. Novak, who was not charged, testified that he’d seen a crowd of 10-15 people near the police van when he arrived yelling.
Bledsoe played surveillance video of that scene and told him his story didn’t match what the screen shows. ‘I see six people [in the video],’ Novak said. ‘Maybe six,’ she responded sarcastically.
Not only are six hostile people sufficient to cause all manner of problems, but NBC failed to mention that Novak pointed out that the video was taken from only one perspective and there were more people outside the frame of the camera.
However, Mosby’s decision did bring about some benefit on a larger scale, Jaros said.
It did send a national message that local prosecutors will not and should not shy away from charging and trying their own —even at the cost of that relationship. In Baltimore, it restored assurance for a lot of residents who did not have confidence in a fair justice system, he said.
Nonetheless, it came at a cost.
‘It did undermine a critical working relationship,’ he said.
Mosby is being sued by three of the officers charged for a gamut of causes, including false arrest, false imprisonment and defamation.
But perhaps the best solution is to completely remove the decision whether to charge an officer from the hands of local prosecutors and put it onto the legislature, Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tennessee.
Take them out of the equation and there are no bad feelings on either side, he said.
Cohen introduced legislation that would mandate independent prosecutors in cases of deadly force by police officers. Under the bill, states that don’t comply by not bringing in an outside prosecutor would lose out on certain federal police funding.
These agencies have a hand and glove relationship,’ Cohen told NBC News. ‘When they are on opposite ends it causes a fracture, a schism in that relationship that is bad for the public,’ he said. Bringing in someone from the outside, no questions asked, will resolve a lot of the repercussions that stem when local prosecutors undertake police misconduct cases, he said.
It will lessen any question of objectivity and reduce aftershocks in a working relationship, he said.
No. It won’t.
Involving not only special prosecutors, but the federal government in every use of force by local police agencies would be an absolute debacle. Doing it would, by default, establish that every local police agency is corrupt and untrustworthy, and always and in every case hiding criminal acts. Professional agencies already bring in other agencies to handle deadly force cases, but handle everything else themselves. The time and money involved would also be prohibitive.
What no one reporting and commenting on the Gray trials seems to understand is that police officers know who among them is unfit to wear the uniform. They know who is dangerous, and if those people are prosecuted or otherwise punished for their unprofessionalism, officers are pleased. Ethical prosecutors doing their jobs without malice and without unnecessarily and egregiously lumping all police officers with the very few unfit brutes among them, do not in any way harm the relationship between themselves and the police. They enhance it.
But we must never forget that in dealing with the Gray case and any similar case, there are two mutually exclusive factions: the Social Justice/Black Lives Matter/community organizer cracktivists, and the police and prosecutors, and their political masters, who represent, practice and uphold the rule of law.
Social Justice is antimatter to the rule of law’s matter, Kryptonite to Superman. We see it with clarity in the Gray case. The evidence has repeatedly proved the officers not only not guilty but innocent. Rather than accepting this, the prosecution not only filed charges without evidence, but refuse to accept, even now, there is no evidence, and the same false arguments will avail them nothing but further destroying their relationship with the police. But that doesn’t matter. The prosecution chose sides. They abandoned the rule of law and embraced social justice, which calls for the blood of police officers. Evidence? Fact? Law? None of that matters. What matters is the vindication of the Social Justice Narrative, and for that, each and every officer must be found guilty on all counts and jailed.
We see the same Bizarro World status quo in the Trayvon Martin case, and the Michael Brown case, the first a classic, unmistakable, case of self-defense actually proved by the prosecution, the second, a murderous assault on a police officer by a drugged thug that had, only minutes before, committed a strong arm robbery. “Hands up; don’t shoot,” is still chanted as though a prayer despite the unquestionable fact Brown did no such thing, though as with the Gray case, if one believed the stupid thug accompanying Brown, Officer Darren Wilson murdered Brown as he was meekly trying to surrender.
That’s the social justice version.
Unfortunately for Social Justice cracktivists, the evidence was so strong and unmistakable–just as it is in the Gray case–that even the racist Obama Department of Justice had to grudgingly admit Brown died because of his own stupidity and criminal acts, and Wilson was entirely justified. Of course, Wilson lost his job and career and is still in hiding.
That’s social justice too.
In the Gray case, not only did the political masters abandon the rule of law and embrace Social Justice, so too did the prosecutors, leaving the police without the foundation of support necessary to do their jobs. The skyrocketing murder and violent crime rate in Baltimore in a single year is the inevitable result. So too is the mass exodus of Baltimore police officers and the unprecedented difficulty Baltimore is experiencing in hiring new officers. That, not Freddie Gray’s death, was inevitable and foreseeable by the reasonable person, but Social Justice requires the abandonment of reason and the embrace of rage.
Above all, remember that because Social Justice reflects the narrative of the moment, no amount of evidence, reason, fact or proof of any kind can possibly affect it or its cracktivists. They cannot be made to accept the truth. Appointing a special prosecutor would mean nothing to them unless prosecution drenched the streets in police blood, and even then, if the officers were not sufficiently humiliated, they could not be appeased. In fact, they can never be appeased. They are perpetually aggrieved. No federal law or withholding of federal funds will mean a thing to them or cause them to change their minds. No gesture of good will can be recognized or appreciated. There is their Narrative, which is the embodiment of their truth, their experience, and justice; that’s why two drugged, violent criminals, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, are, and always shall be, holy Social Justice Martyrs.
Their beliefs are based on lies, so the truth must be ignored, denied and attacked as racist.
One must remember above all to such people, the police, and Americans of good will, are the racist, evil enemy, and the more one tries to understand and mollify them, the more they will hate and demand. When politicians and prosecutors abandon the rule of law and embrace social justice, they are embracing the worst and most destructive elements in society, and taking away the ability of the police to deal with them.
That’s what the Freddie Gray case is about.
Judge Williams will give his verdict at 1000 on Monday, July 18, 2016. If he observes the rule of law, as he has done in the last two cases, the only possible verdict is not guilty on all counts. We shall see.