State’s Tactics Questioned in 4th Freddie Gray Trial

     BALTIMORE (CN) — Prosecutors on Friday continued to press their case against the highest-ranking officer involved in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, despite calls to back down.
     “Today would be a great day to throw in the towel,” said Warren Brown, a lawyer who has been closely following the trials of four of the six officers charged in relation to the 25-year-old’s death. Lt. Brian Rice is the latest to be tried.
     Brown made the declaration after the merry-go-round of familiar state witnesses.
     The lawyer said that in the two previous cases when Judge Barry Williams handed down acquittals of officers — Edward Nero was acquitted in May, and police van driver Caesar Goodson Jr. was cleared last month — he clearly stated in his decision that the state would need to show that officers were conscious of the imminent danger Gray faced when he was placed in the van handcuffed, shackled and without a seatbelt.
     “It’s just not there,” Brown said, referring to the evidence the state would need to present to Williams to achieve a conviction.
     Rice, 46, like Nero and Goodson, chose to have his case heard by Williams rather than a jury.
     He faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. A second charge of misconduct in office related to Gray’s arrest was dropped by prosecutors the first day of the trial.
     “I think this is a very difficult case to win,” said David Jaros, a law professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. “The judge in this case has made it very clear that the state needs to show some intent of malice or corruption in office and the evidence has just not shown that.”
     State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has come under scrutiny for her continued prosecution of the officers despite not garnering a single conviction in three prior cases.
     Officer William Porter’s trial last December ended in a hung jury and a mistrial was declared. He is scheduled to be retried in September.
     The trials continue to draw fire, as a wedge has been driven into the relationship between the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Baltimore City Police Department. Officers, including Porter and Nero, have been forced to testify about fellow officers who were criminally charged for their actions while on duty.
     Violence continues to plague Baltimore, the majority black city of 620,000. The homicide rate is one the highest per capita in the country. Arrests also fell by nearly 25 percent after the officers involved with Gray were charged.
     The prosecution has relied heavily on the fact that officers failed to seat belt Gray, but Williams ruled that even though police general orders were not followed, the act itself did not rise to the level of criminality.
     The state called five witnesses on Friday, all of whom have become familiar faces since testimony in earlier cases: Dr. Morris Marc Sorriano, a neurosurgeon who has testified in two of the three previous cases; Detective Michael Boyd, a detective who worked on the Gray case from the very first day; Brandon Ross, a friend of Gray who was with him on the day of his arrest; Lloyd Sobboh, a rookie police officer that partook in a filming exercise in the back of a police transport van; and Jamal Baker, who saw Gray being placed in the back of the van at the second of six stops.
     Rice’s trial is expected to continue into next week.

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