(BALTIMORE) — The defense for the six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray will likely claim that the decision to indict was based on politics, not facts, a legal analyst said Saturday.
The death of Gray, 25, a week after he was taken into custody, was ruled a homicide Friday, and Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced criminal charges against six officers connected to the case.
The charges vary for each officer, but include several counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment, among others. The most serious charge is second-degree depraved heart murder, which only Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr., the driver of the police van, faces.
ABC’s Chief Legal Analyst Dan Abrams said he believes “the rush to judgment is going to be the heart of the defense.”
Gray was injured while in police custody on April 12. He died on April 19. An investigation was launched that resulted in charges in less than two weeks, while there were daily protests in the city that occasionally turned violent.
“I mean that’s what the defense is going to be here, which is that not enough time was taken to allow the prosecutor to fairly and objectively evaluate the evidence,” Abrams said. “The defense is going to [say] that charge was because of the riots.”
The other officers charged besides Goodson are: Officer William G. Porter, Lt. Brian W. Rice, Officer Edward M. Nero, Officer Garrett E. Miller and Sgt. Alicia D. White. And according to Abrams, part of the defense strategy will be evaluating each of the officers separately.
“The allegations against each of them are totally different, so you’re not going to be able to lump all of them in together and say did they collectively do something,” Abrams said. “Each one of those officers is going to have a separate defense where they’re going to say wait a second, why am I being charged with X crime — in many of these cases manslaughter — and then going through moment by moment what that officer did or didn’t do. And I think they’re going to be some very powerful defenses.”
Abrams says it will be tough to convict the officers.
“Some of the lesser convictions will likely stick in certain cases. But I think some of the more serious charges, most of the more serious charges, it’s going to be really tough to get convictions on a lot of these charges. I think it is fair to say that this prosecutor as a legal matter has overreached,” Abrams said.
“Two officers here are charged with manslaughter, who come on the scene later and don’t do enough, according to prosecutors. That may be wrong but getting a jury to convict them of manslaughter for simply not helping enough is going to be very, very tough,” he added.
Mosby, who comes from a long line of police officers herself, defended the indictments at a press conference.
“My job a prosecutor is to follow and uphold the law… that means equally applying justice to those with and without a badge,” she said.
But, the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police doubts Mosby’s office’s ability to be objective. In an open letter to Mosby Monday, the FOP asked her to appoint a special independent prosecutor, saying the organization has “very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest presented by your office conducting an investigation in this case.”
However, Abrams says he doesn’t think that the conflicts of interest will “be a serious claim here.”
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