As regular readers know, one of the continuing plot threads relating to the Freddie Gray case I’ve been following is the pursuit of department charges against the six officers exonerated in that case. As I’ve noted, the criminal cases against them failed so spectacularly, the leftist politicians–particularly Baltimore Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby–of Baltimore and Maryland were stunned, and began, as such people always do, to eat each other. However, the officers were not forgotten, and powerful forces still seek their Shylockian, social justice, pound of flesh, as The Baltimore Sun reports:
Five Baltimore police officers involved in the 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray have been charged with violating department rules, with three of them facing termination, The Baltimore Sun has learned.
The three who face firing are Officer Caesar Goodson, who was driving the van where an autopsy determined Gray suffered fatal injuries; and supervisors Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, according to sources with knowledge of the case.
Meanwhile, Officer William Porter, who was criminally charged with manslaughter, is not facing any internal discipline.
The investigation was done by the Montgomery and Howard county police departments. Having outside agencies do internal investigations when politically noteworthy charges are involved is a potentially good idea, but only if using them for the investigation removes all political influence. Internal charges are seldom, if ever, violations of the law, but violations of the rules and procedures all police agencies have.
For example, I once worked for a police agency whose chief was a hat fanatic. If the choice were wearing the required police hat or saving a life, he would seriously have to think about it. And even though departmental rules specifically allowed discretion in the wearing of hats, he and his toadies were constantly harassing officers about wearing hats, even when it made no sense and was tactically foolish.
However, in this case, one of the most likely rules being pushed is the seat belt issue. BPD rules in effect for decades allowed for discretion, and even though a new policy that substantially decreased that discretion was implemented a few days before Gray’s death, the prosecution was never able to prove any of the officers were made aware of that rule change. Even though the transport vans were configured in such a way belting prisoners put officers in danger, and even though hundreds of thousands of prisoners were transported without seatbelts over the years without injury, this is most likely one of the avenues being used to attack the officers.
Other likely generic rules would have to do with failing to properly supervise–in the case of Sgt. White and Lt. Rice, and failing in some general duty of care–Officer Goodson. The general argument would likely be they had a duty to get Gray to booking safe and sound, and Gray ended up dead, so it’s their fault, somehow, someway. I’m being a bit vague here, because I do not have specific information on the charges, nor do I have access to the BPD’s rule and procedures.
All of the officers can accept that punishment or elect to contest the charges before a ‘trial board,’ an internal disciplinary panel comprised of police officers. The board has the power to acquit the officers or uphold the charges. If the charges are upheld, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis would have the final say on punishment.
A new state law makes trial boards open to the public, but keeps the outcomes secret.
It’s highly unlikely any outcome will remain secret. Political concerns will have the BPD, the Mayor’s office, Mosby’s office, etc, leaking like sieves.
And what does Marilyn Mosby have to say:
Justice is always worth the price paid for its pursuit.
Right. Of course, she means social justice, not rule of law justice justice.
This case has always been about providing justice for an innocent 25-year-old man who was unreasonably taken into police custody, severely injured while in police custody, and died due to a lack of care,’ she said. ‘If today’s news is accurate, I am relieved to know that a majority of those involved will be held administratively accountable for their actions.
The officers, as yet, have not commented, though Off. Porter’s attorney has:
Attorney Joseph Murtha, who represented Porter in his criminal case and the administrative investigation, cheered the findings regarding his client and said it showed he was ‘a truth-teller’ in his account of the events surrounding Gray’s death.
Murtha said Porter plans to stay with the department.
‘His goal from the beginning was to continue to be a Baltimore police officer, and is relieved that he continues to have that opportunity available to him,’ Murtha said.
As I’ve often written, this may be a vain hope. The social justice warriors of Baltimore will never forget Off. Porter. He will always have a target on his back, and there will always be plenty of thugs more than willing to earn the street cred killing Porter–or any of the officers involved–would provide.
Tessa Hill-Aston, president of Baltimore’s NAACP chapter, said she believes Nero and Miller should face stiffer punishment for putting the series of events into motion. The two arrested Gray after he ran from them near the Gilmor Homes public housing development in West Baltimore.
‘Everyone got pulled into what they started,’ Hill-Aston said. [skip]
‘They needed to be punished in some form or fashion, and the community will feel good that we got some satisfaction,’ she said.
Actually, “everyone got pulled into what” Marilyn Mosby started. The officers were patrolling that specific area and corner at the request of Mosby. It was her city councilman husband’s district, and his constituents were complaining about drug dealing and general thuggery.
Enter Freddie Gray, local drug dealer and user, and general small time thug. As multiple trials, all using the same evidence, proved, the officers were entirely justified in pursuing and stopping Gray, and in arresting him for an illegal knife he was carrying. Disciplining these officers will contribute substantially to the reluctance of Baltimore officers to engage in proactive policing of the kind specifically requested by Nick and Marilyn Mosby.
Karen Kruger, a Baltimore lawyer who is a national expert on police discipline, said Davis will have a major say in the outcome of the case.
‘The commissioner has a lot of authority,’ Kruger said. ‘He also has a lot of responsibility, and has to answer to the citizens.
Yes. Citizens still seeking blood despite the criminals pulling Baltimore down around their ears as officers reasonably avoid controversy. Lt. Gene Ryan, Baltimore PD Police Union leader spoke out in another Baltimore Sun article:
The allegations against the six police officers have been thoroughly litigated time and time again,’ Ryan said in a statement. ‘All of the evidence has been presented to multiple fact-finders who have decided that these officers did nothing wrong. [skip]
‘The administrative charges are nothing more than that — they are charges,’ Ryan’s statement continued. ‘We have no reason to believe that the results of a fair trial board will be any different than the result of all 27 of the criminal counts which uniformly rejected any wrongdoing on the part of the officers.’
Ryan’s statement continued by saying that Baltimoreans ‘should be outraged at their leaders.’
‘Crime is at an all-time high, while arrests and convictions are at an all-time low,’ Ryan said. ‘The only losers in the decision to continue persecuting these five officers are the citizens of Baltimore City.
Playing out in Baltimore is the difference between the rule of law and social justice, as I’ve often noted in this case. Under the rule of law, the police have the support of the public and politicians, while still reserving the power to discipline officers that fail in their duties. Such officers have the same rights to due process as the lowest criminal. Under social justice, all that matters is the narrative. Evidence is irrelevant. The law is irrelevant, and usually, gets in the way of the narrative. Feelings and perceptions rule, and the mob must get its way one way or another. At the moment, the mob is doing quite well and the police–and honest citizens–are very much on the ropes.
Consider this from a Baltimore Sun editorial:
Many in Baltimore were disappointed that no one was held criminally responsible in Gray’s death, but despite fears of renewed unrest after each verdict, the city remained largely calm because residents were able to see for themselves that the jury in the first trial and Judge Barry Williams in the subsequent ones followed the evidence where it led and drew conclusions accordingly. Whatever the outcome in these administrative hearings, we need another process we can trust.
The situation in Baltimore is unlikely to improve anytime soon. Thanks to Marilyn Mosby, and the fecklessness of local politicians, BPD rank and file officers cannot trust prosecutors, their own administrators, and certainly not local politicians. Criminals are taking advantage of the situation to enact a reign of terror, and honest citizens are helpless, knowing police officers who they support, will not risk being fired, arrested and/or jailed to stop the predominantly black criminals that bedevil them. Officers that can leave Baltimore have already done so or are working to do it, and the BPD is having a terrible time recruiting officers of any quality. Race relations are in tatters, and race hustlers continue to keep the racial pot stirred.
What is not being reported is whether criminals are taking advantage of the situation by crying police brutality if an officer looks at them funny. God help any officer transporting one of these hustlers. One can only imagine the horrible injuries they’ll claim to have suffered at the hands of the police. People like this, like the Obamites, never fail to take advantage of a crisis.
Internal discipline processes often come down to judgment calls. Determining if there are bright lines, or indeed, where they are, is a difficult matter. Since I don’t know the specific rules or procedures the officers are charged with violating, it’s difficult indeed to pass informed judgment.
There can be little doubt what the political class–and this includes the police commissioner and his minions–wants: the figurative blood of the five officers. And what will that get them?
Will criminals suddenly decide to change their ways? Will drug dealers, in solidarity with one of their own–Freddie Gray–suddenly decide social justice has been done and stop dealing drugs? Will race baiters and hustlers declare a new era of racial harmony?
It’s long past time to end the Freddie Gray debacle. In a sense, it will never end until Marilyn Mosby is out of office, merely another bad memory of yet another incompetent, racialist politician, a mistake made by the people of Baltimore they will never admit making. But seeing any of these officers suspended or fired can only make internal BPD relations worse. They’ve suffered–physically, psychologically, financially and professionally–more than enough. I suspect at least some of them are hoping, finally, to put all of this behind them in the hope they’ll be able to get on with their lives.
I would hope they’re planning to flee Baltimore as soon as possible. Perhaps they’re thinking they’ll be able to find another police job somewhere else, somewhere far, far away. Perhaps they’re right, but not until they’re exonerated in every legitimate way possible under the rule of law. Until then, they’re law enforcement untouchables, and perhaps even then.
There is one thing of which we can all be certain: the hounds of social justice will never stop pursuing them.