This past weekend was the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting of Michael Brown. Despite the fact that “hands up, don’t shoot” was proven to be a complete fabrication, protestors still took to the streets in Ferguson, firing shots at police. Have we learned nothing? Apparently.
And speaking of learning nothing. Notice how quiet it’s been regarding the case of Freddie Gray?
Last April, 25-year-old Freddie Gray died of a severe spinal cord injury he apparently sustained in the back of a police transport van. Prior to this arrest, Gray’s criminal record included at least 18 arrests dealing primarily with drugs and trafficking dating back to 2007, according to the Maryland Department of Justice.
After his death, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby swiftly brought charges against the officers involved with Gray’s arrest. The Baltimore Sun reports Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the driver of the van, is charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder. Sgt. Alicia D. White, Lt. Brian W. Rice and Officer William G. Porter are charged with manslaughter. Officers Edward M. Nero and Garrett E. Miller, who were involved in Gray’s initial arrest, face lesser charges, including second-degree assault.
All have pleaded not guilty.But now we’re learning that the police detectives who investigated the death of Freddie Gray were told that he had a history of participating in “crash-for-cash” schemes — injuring himself in law enforcement settings to collect settlements — but were advised by a state prosecutor not to pursue the information, according to defense attorneys for the six officers charged in Gray’s arrest and death. The defense attorneys said in a court motion Thursday that Assistant State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe told police investigators working the case in its early stages not to “do the defense attorneys’ jobs for them” by pursuing information they had about such schemes and evidence that Gray “intentionally injured himself at the Baltimore City Detention Center.”
Bledsoe, the lead prosecutor in the case against the officers, represented Gray in a 2012 case in which he pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine.
The defense attorneys argued that her alleged statement “would seem to indicate some level of knowledge that exculpatory evidence exists which could benefit the officers charged in Mr. Gray’s death and that the prosecutor did not want this information uncovered by investigators.”
Clearly there is more to be learned about Gray’s case. In the tragic case of Walter Scott in South Carolina, shot in the back by a white police officer, justice was quickly served, with the officer rightly charged with murder.
Obviously, that case was black and white.
However, in the case of Freddie, it is very, very gray. And problematic actions by the prosecution raise far more questions than they answer. Justice is never served when it is manipulated to serve an agenda.
[Note: This article was written by Michele Hickford, Editor-in-Chief]