CNN reports that the Baltimore police investigation into the death of Freddie Gray doesn’t support some of the charges, including the most serious, filed by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. The police investigators thought that, at most, manslaughter charges might be warranted. Yet, Mosby charged Caesar Goodson with second degree murder.
CNN also reports that, according to the police, homicide investigators, after being briefed by the medical examiner’s office, believed the examiner’s report would likely find the cause of death to fall short of homicide. Yet, the medical examiner concluded that Gray’s death was a homicide. Was the medical examiner pressured to find a homicide?
Mosby’s supporters probably will argue that the police investigation was biased in favor of the officers being investigated. However, the investigators’ belief that Mosby has overcharged at least some of the defendants is shared by prominent criminal law experts including Alan Dershowitz.
The police investigators’ findings will be provided to the defense attorneys. This could make it all the more difficult for Mosby to obtain a homicide conviction.
Speaking of potential bias in this case, Mosby has several possible incentives to overcharge the defendants. One is her desire to appease rioters. Another is the fact that her husband, city councilman Nick Mosby, represents the area where Gray was arrested.
In addition, it turns out that one of the lead investigators whom Mosby relied on in bringing charges is a former high-ranking Baltimore officer who was stripped of his command due to misconduct. The former officer, Avon Mackel, reportedly lost his post for failing to follow through on a robbery investigation that two of his officers mishandled. Furthermore, police officers in the district were accused of classifying serious crimes as lesser ones, in order to log lower crime rates.
Does Mackel have an ax to grind? It’s clear that he didn’t take his demotion well. According to CNN:
In October 2009, four months after his demotion, Baltimore County police sent a SWAT team to Mackel’s home, responding a drunken incident in which he was seen holding a gun, according to a police report of the incident obtained by CNN.
Officers said an intoxicated Mackel refused to cooperate and was visibly upset, according to the report provided in response to a public records request. An officer then “observed the barrel of Mackel’s handgun hanging over the edge of the molding at the top of the steps and saw Mackel pull the gun out of sight,” the report said.
Police used a Taser on Mackel while he was on the phone with his father “crying and yelling,” before he barricaded himself in his bedroom.
I think I’d put more faith in the police task force assigned to investigate Freddie Gray’s death than in a team in which Mackel played a lead role.
But then, I don’t have a mob to pacify and an anti-police electorate to placate.