Freddie Gray’s Arresting Officers Criticize Internal Review

BALTIMORE (CN) — Three Baltimore police officers involved in the fatal arrest of Freddie Gray brought a court action to block an administrative review of their conduct, saying department officials tainted the process.

Each of the officers has already averted state and federal prosecution related to Gray’s death in April 2015. The 25-year-old is believed to have suffered a critical spinal cord injury while being transported to the police station after a questionable weapons arrest.

If the officers are found guilty of the administrative charges against them, the Baltimore Police Department has said it will recommend termination.

On the eve of these proceedings, which the officers call “very important and very high profile,” reports emerged last week that command staff from BPD inserted themselves in what was supposed to be an outside review.

Filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court, the Oct. 10 complaint is signed by Michael Davey, an attorney for Lt. Brian Rice with the firm Schlachman, Belsky & Weiner; Bates and Garcia attorney Tony Garcia, who represents Sgt. Alicia White; and Harris Jones & Malone attorney Sean Malone, who represents Officer Caesar Goodson.

Davey, Garcia and Malone say none of them were extended an invitation to the ex-parte meeting that the BPD held with the four outside command personnel selected to chair the administrative hearing boards.

Despite each of these chairpeople having “extensive experience in chairing administrative hearing boards,” the complaint says the BPD command staff provided “some form of training” to the chairs at the ex-part meeting.

Calling for a stay of the proceedings, the officers accuse BPD of calling “into question the fairness of any administrative hearing board in which these four potential chairpersons from an outside agency might chair.”

The complaint misspells Gray’s first name.

Goodson, the officer who drove the van carrying Gray, is scheduled to go before the review boards first, on Oct. 30. Rice’s hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13, and White is scheduled for Dec. 5. 

Attorney Davey confirmed Tuesday that Garrett Miller and Edward Nero, two of the other officers involved in Gray’s arrest, have already accepted “minor disciplinary action.”

Miller and Nero “believe they did not violate any of the policies, procedures or practices of the Baltimore Police Department,” but “accepted the disciplinary action to move on from this unfortunate incident and continue their careers,” Davey said.

“The most important factor in deciding to accept the disciplinary action was to ensure they continue their employment with the Baltimore Police Department so they can support themselves and their families,” Davey added.

Davey did not specify the administrative charges against his clients but said Miller, 28, is back to full-time duty working in the police department’s marine unit, and Nero, 31, is back to full-time work in the aviation unit.

A police spokesman did not respond to an email request for comment, nor did attorneys for Goodson and White.

The outside commanders are identified  in the complaint as Capt. Cynthia Ruff and Maj. Irene Burks and Maj. Robert Clark from Prince George’s County and Capt. Peter Spaulding of the Maryland State Police. Burks and Spaulding are the “permanent chairpersons” for trial boards in their own jurisdictions, according to the complaint.

The city paid Gray’s family $6.4 million to avoid civil litigation.

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