Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ground Nero in Baltimore

Sorry to cop out on you.

Officers’ trials in Freddie Gray case resume after delays
Nero wasn’t involved in Gray’s arrest, defense attorney says
Officer in Gray case testifies against colleague at trial
Judge in police officer’s trial grills prosecutors

"Police officer in Freddie Gray case is acquitted on all charges" by Jess Bidgood New York Times  May 24, 2016

BALTIMORE — About a dozen protesters gathered outside the courthouse in the moments after the verdict was rendered, and some chanted the familiar protest cry, “No justice, no peace.”

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake pleaded for calm, noting that officer Edward M. Nero still faces a departmental review and could face disciplinary action. ‘‘We once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion,’’ she said.

The verdict, the first in any of the six officers implicated, comes a little more than a year after Freddie Gray, a black man who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody [and] died in April 2015.

The first trial, against Officer William G. Porter, ended with a mistrial in December. Gray’s death embroiled parts of Baltimore, which has a history of tension between the police and its residents, in violent protest and became an inexorable piece of the nation’s wrenching discussion of the use of force by officers, particularly against minorities.

Many demonstrators had felt vindicated last year when the city’s top prosecutor, Marilyn J. Mosby, announced charges against the officers, but legal specialists have questioned whether they were too ambitious.

Peter Moskos, a former Baltimore police officer who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, said that Mosby had “overplayed her hand.”

Charges were filed too quickly, he said, adding that prosecutors should have spent more time bolstering cases against one or two officers who may have been most culpable. “Someone dying doesn’t always make it a crime,” Moskos said. “The prosecutors are trying to find social justice, but these are trials of individual cops.”

A lawyer for Nero, Marc Zayon, called for the charges against the remaining officers to be dropped.

“The state’s attorney for Baltimore City rushed to charge him, as well as the other five officers, completely disregarding the facts of the case and the applicable law,” Zayon said in a statement.

“Like Officer Nero,” Zayon added, “these officers have done nothing wrong.”


"Stakes rise for prosecutors trying officer in Freddie Gray case for murder" by Jess Bidgood New York Times   June 08, 2016

BALTIMORE — The trial comes as prosecutors aim to shift the narrative away from the mistrial of one officer involved in the case and, just over two weeks ago, another one’s acquittal on all charges.

But legal experts say it will be exceedingly difficult for prosecutors to secure a conviction for murder. Some activists in Baltimore say their faith in the judicial process is already worn.

“The average person doesn’t really expect anything,” said Dayvon Love, the director of public policy for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, an advocacy organization. “They expect the officers to get acquitted. They don’t expect any accountability.”

In addition to the failed prosecutions, the trials have left lingering questions about how Gray ended up with a severed spine, critics say.

“The world wants to know what happened to Freddie Gray,” said Darlene Cain, a nurse’s assistant whose own son was shot and killed by a Baltimore police officer in 2008 and who has advocated greater accountability from officers who use force. “How did a young person, healthy, talking and standing at one moment, and then at the next time, he’s not living?”

Just a "rough ride" is all.



"Gray’s death became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement, fueling outrage nationwide over the treatment of black people by the criminal justice system. But it hasn’t fit quite so neatly into the narrative of white authorities imposing unfair justice on minorities. In this case, not only the victim but the defendant, judge, top prosecutor, and mayor are African-American. At the time of Gray’s death, so was the police chief. Many activists focused their criticism on the system as a whole...."

Three trials and no convictions.

Also see:

Officer facing murder in prisoner death opts for bench trial
Police van driver goes on trial for black man’s death
Witness testifies he told police van driver of Freddie Gray’s request to be taken to hospital
Closing arguments heard in Baltimore police trial

Analysts say prosecutor should rethink stand after acquittals in Gray case
Three officers awaiting trial in Gray’s death want cases dismissed

There is no abuse at the hands of police.

Maybe if you wheeled around Delaware:

"No charges for 4 officers in killing of man in wheelchair" Associated Press  May 13, 2016

DOVER, Del. — Criminal charges cannot be brought against four Wilmington police officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man in a wheelchair, although one officer exhibited ‘‘extraordinarily poor’’ police work and should not be allowed to carry a gun in public, the Delaware attorney general’s office concluded in a report released Thursday.

State officials also said their investigation into the September shooting of Jeremy McDole revealed serious deficiencies in the Wilmington police department’s use-of-force policies and training, and in preparing officers to deal with people with mental illness and other disabilities.

‘‘Most significantly, we find that the ‘‘continuum of force’’ provisions of the Wilmington Police Department’s use of force policy are effectively meaningless for police officers as currently written,’’ officials noted in the 31-page report.

Police confronted McDole on Sept. 23 after receiving a 911 call about a man with a gun.

A bystander’s cellphone footage shows officers repeatedly telling McDole to drop his weapon and raise his hands and McDole reaching for his waist before shots erupt.

In court records that predate last year’s shooting, law enforcement officials have stated that McDole, who was shot in the back by an associate in 2005, used his wheelchair to hide things.

Authorities said their investigation into the shooting included interviewing witnesses, officers and McDole’s family members, analysis of ballistics and autopsy results, video evidence, and consultation with two nationally recognized police use-of-force experts.

The attorney general’s office concluded that police were justified in shooting McDole because they believed that deadly force was necessary to protect themselves or others.

That's the catch all they use to justify it.


"Feds won’t file charges in killing by police" Associated Press  June 22, 2016

SPOKANE, Wash. — Federal prosecutors will not file charges against three police officers in Pasco, Wash., who shot and killed a mentally ill man last year, sparking weeks of protests.

US Attorney Michael Ormsby said Tuesday there was insufficient evidence that the officers violated the civil rights of Antonio Zambrano-Montes when they fired 17 bullets at him on Feb. 10, 2015.

Zambrano-Montes, 35, an orchard worker from Mexico, was shot several times as he threw rocks at police at a busy downtown intersection.

An autopsy showed he had methamphetamine in his system. He also had a history of mental illness and previous interactions with police.

Cellphone video of the shooting went viral and led to weeks of peaceful protests in the city along the Columbia River in southern Washington.

‘‘Videos clearly show police firing many shots at Antonio,’’ his mother, Agapita Montes Rivera, of Parotita, Mexico, said in the statement. ‘‘When he then turned to surrender, they shot him to death. ‘‘Where is justice for my son?’’ she said.

The parents of Zambrano-Montes have filed a lawsuit in federal court contending the officers used excessive force....


That's my final shot.


Fourth officer due to stand trial in Baltimore

Police records can’t be used in next Freddie Gray trial

Trial begins for Baltimore officer charged in arrestee death