Police Gear Up for Next|Freddie Gray Hearing

     BALTIMORE (CN) – As the city builds a criminal case against police for fatal injuries Freddie Gray sustained in custody, a judge will decide Thursday whether that trial belongs in Baltimore.
     The hearing comes one day after city officials voted to approve the $6.4 million settlement for Gray’s family proposed Tuesday.
     Gray’s death on April 19 was followed by a week of mostly peaceful demonstrations, but protests turned violent April 27, the day of Gray’s funeral.
     The riots in several West Baltimore communities were intense, involving damage to or fires at more than 400 businesses, 150 vehicles were burned, 20 police officers injured, and 285 people arrested.
     The violence was isolated to a single day, though, after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake instituted a 10 p.m. curfew, and Gov. Larry Hogan called up the National Guard to help keep peace.
     State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed charges against six officers involved in Gray’s arrest within days of the riots.
     Video of the arrest shot by a bystander shows Gray dragging his feet while police put him in a van. The police officer who drove that van, Caesar Goodson Jr., is charged with second-degree and depraved-heart murder, among other counts.
     Sgt. Alicia White, Lt. Brian Rice and officer William Porter are charged with manslaughter. Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller face lesser charges, including second-degree assault.
     Neither the officers nor Gray’s family are expected to be present at Thursday’s hearing, which involves a change-of-venue motion by the defense.
     They did not attend hearings last week either. In those proceedings, Judge Barry Williams denied two defense motions that sought to dismiss the charges against the officers and to recuse State’s Attorney Mosby and her office from the case.
     Williams rejected a motion to try three of the defendant officers together, instead granting the defense’s motion for separate trials.
     The venue question will have the judge consider whether the officers can receive fair trials in the city, given the intense media coverage and the impact on potential jurors.
     Attorneys for the officers have argued in their filings that the “media frenzy” surrounding the protests, rioting and subsequent criminal charges against the officers would keep their clients from accessing unbiased jurors and receiving fair trials.
     Finding an impartial jury “would be futile given the fact that the events surrounding this case have impacted every citizen of Baltimore,” defense attorneys wrote.

%d bloggers like this: