Suit by Charged Freddie Gray Officers Unsealed

     BALTIMORE (CN) — Two of the police officers charged with manslaughter in the death of Freddie Gray are suing prosecutors for defamation, newly unsealed records show.
     Filed on May 2 but unsealed Thursday, the complaint in Baltimore City Circuit Court takes issue with remarks State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby made to the press last year after Gray’s death in Baltimore fanned the flames of the Black Lives Matter movement.
     Sgt. Alicia White and Officer William Porter say Gray’s arrest on April 12, 2015, was lawful, and that they took immediate steps to get the 25-year-old medical attention when they became aware he was in distress.
     Gray sustained a critical spinal cord injury while police transported him to central booking and died in the hospital a week later.
     His funeral on April 27 triggered unrest in Baltimore, and White and Porter were among six officers whose arrests capped off that explosive week.
     Their 26-page lawsuit says State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby lied to press, “and spoke in a divisive and inciting manner,” when announcing the case on May 1.
     Mosby “made statements for purposes of quelling the riots rather than prosecuting police officers who had committed crimes,” the complaint states.
     “In doing so, Ms. Mosby went well beyond and exceeded the authority of the role of the State’s Attorney’s Office as prosecutor and brought charges against police officers that were wholly unsupported by evidence and probable cause and for a purpose other than her role: prosecuting those who had committed crimes,” the complaint states.
     One way Mosby twisted the evidence, according to the complaint, was saying the knife police found on Gray should not have gotten him arrested because it was not an illegal switchblade.
     White and Porter meanwhile say the knife was illegal since it was spring-assisted, and that Mosby knew this gave the officers probable cause.
     To date, Mosby has refused request to make the knife available for inspection.
     White and Porter say the State’s Attorney’s Office also sought to influence the medical examiner who ruled Gray’s death a homicide, noting that it withheld “relevant, material, and truthful information,” such as Gray’s prior back injury.
     In addition to Maryland, the complaint names as a defendant Maj. Samuel Cogan, the Baltimore sheriff who filed the application for statement of charges.
     The complaint says Mosby gave Cogan flawed legal advice, and that Cogan knew there was no probable cause to arrest the officers.
     “Mosby and Cogan acted negligently … or with actual malice directed at Plaintiff White and Plaintiff Porter with intent to cause harm by trampling on the Plaintiffs’ rights in furtherance of Defendant’s’ own personal interests and political agendas,” the complaint states.
     White and Porter say their arrests were “made without probable cause and were done either negligently or, in the alternative, intentionally, with ill will, improper motivation and /or evil purpose.”
     White, 31, and Porter, 26, are both charged with involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault and misconduct in office.
     Because of a gag order in the criminal cases by Circuit Judge Barry Williams, the officers had sought to keep their suit sealed. Judge Althea Handy denied the motion to seal the case Wednesday.
     Both the State’s Attorney’s Office and the sheriff’s office declined to comment on the suit, citing Williams’ gag order.
     White and Porter’s attorney Michael Glass has not returned an email seeking comment.
     The suit says Mosby violated Maryland Rule of Professional Conduct when she made an “extrajudicial statement” and disseminated in a way that prejudice proceedings.
     Porter had been the first of the six officers to go on trial last year, but his case ended in a hung jury. His retrial is scheduled for early September.
     Another of the officers, Edward Nero, went on trial in the meantime.
     A judge acquitted him of assault and the other charges, all misdemeanors, this past Monday.
     White is scheduled to go on trial for mid-October.
     Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the driver of the van where Gray sustained the injury, has a trial date of June 6. He is the only officer charged with murder in the case.
     The manslaughter trial of Lt. Brian Rice is set for July 5.
     Officer Garrett Miller, who faces trial on July 27, is charged with assault.

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