As a second hearing for the officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray begins Thursday morning, a judge will decide if the case will continue in Baltimore after defense for the six police officers claim they wouldn’t get a fair trial in the grief-stricken city.
Judge Barry Williams will make the decision and hear other arguments from defense lawyers, which also include more accusations towards prosecutor Marilyn Mosby, and the fear of returning unrest if the case continues in the city, BuzzFeed reports. Gray died from spinal injuries while riding in a police van after he was arrested on April 19.
Lawyers for the six officers claim Mosby’s May 1 announcement she was charging the officers for the 25-year-old’s death showed her allegiance to protesters and supporters. They also added the recent $6.4 million city settlement with Gray’s family paints a guilty picture for the officers before the jury has even been put together.
If Williams decides to take the case out of Baltimore, unrest is still likely, since community activists and protesters prefer the officers be tried in the city. For the first hearing in the case against the former law enforcement officers last week, protest groups were significantly smaller than the ones in April. Still, activist Kwame Rose was arrested and released the following day, and Pastor Westley West was arrested Wednesday without incident after footage showed him allegedly blocking traffic during the protest.
Meanwhile, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and the other four members of the city’s Board of Estimates’ settlement decision has come under fire by Fraternal Order of Police president Gene Ryan, USA Today writes. Ryan demanded members of the Estimates board reject the family’s $6.4 million settlement, calling it obscene.
USA Today reports:
He said the settlement would damage efforts to return to “pre-riot normalcy” – and the relationship between the city and its police officers. To suggest that there is any reason to settle prior to the adjudication of the pending criminal cases is obscene,” Ryan said.
Baffled by Ryan’s comments, Rawlings-Blake told reporters the suit gives closure to the city and to Gray’s family.
“The purpose of the civil settlement is to bring an important measure of closure to the Gray family, to the community and to the city,” Rawlings-Blake said after the vote. “And and to avoid years and years of protracted civil litigation. All this settlement does is remove civil liability from the six officers. It ensures that the end of the criminal trial is the end (of litigation) for those officers. … There will be closure.”
Rawlings-Blake continued to stress that the settlement does not have any relation to criminal proceedings for the six officers under investigation.
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