AFRICANGLOBE – The Baltimore police officers being prosecuted over the murder of Freddie Gray threatened on Friday to sue the city’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, for arresting them, as they demanded that she step down from their case over alleged conflicts of interest.
As part of a barrage of hostile court filings that also sought to dismiss all charges against the officers on technical grounds, their lawyers attacked Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore, who announced their charges in the Gray case in a shock statement last Friday.
In an extraordinary 109-page motion, the officers’ lawyers said all six may sue Mosby and mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake for arresting and detaining them unless the city pays them tens of thousands of dollars in damages. They accused Mosby in sharply personal terms of breaching the US constitution, the Maryland declaration of rights, and her professional code.
“Rarely in the history of any criminal case has a prosecutor so directly maintained so many conflicts of interest,” their motion said, before accusing Mosby of using the case for “the seizing of personal and political gain” with her husband, a Baltimore city councilman.
Attorneys for the officers argued in a second motion that prosecutors violated Maryland law by rushing to charge their clients on 1 May with crimes including murder and manslaughter over the death of Gray, 25, whose neck was broken in custody, prompting protests and unrest.
It alleged too little time elapsed on 1 May between the filing to court of an application for criminal charges and warrants being issued for their arrests. City prosecutors could not have have properly considered their cases, as state law requires, so quickly, they said.
“It appears that there is a defect in the institution of the prosecution of the defendants,” attorneys for the officers said in an eight-page motion, adding that the “appropriate sanction” would be dismissal of all the charging documents against their clients.
The motion pointed specifically to the case of officer William Porter, who had a warrant issued for his arrest at 9.21am, 13 minutes after a sheriff filed an application for a statement of charges against him at a Baltimore district court earlier that morning.
It is unlikely that a proper investigation into the allegations and a recommendation on whether warrants should be issued for the officers’ arrests could have been completed “within that 13-minute time frame”, the motion said.
The separate motion calling for Mosby to stand down from the case listed five arguments that she suffers from a conflict of interest. A number of these relate to the personal relationships of officials within the state’s attorney’s office, including Mosby’s marriage to city councilman Nick Mosby.
The motion contends that as Nick Mosby represents Baltimore’s seventh district, the location of Gray’s arrest and where the heaviest protests occurred in response to his murder, Marilyn Mosby has a “professional and personal need in accommodating the needs of her husband”, who allegedly stands to benefit politically if all six officers are convicted.
Both Marilyn and Nick Mosby have repeatedly dismissed any implication of a conflict interest and the motion lists no direct evidence.
It is also contends that one of Mosby’s deputies is in a relationship with an acclaimed local television journalist, Jayne Miller, who reported on the Gray case. It argues that as the reporter interviewed Donte Allen, a key witness to Gray’s arrest, who is alleged to have changed his account of events during this interview, Miller has potential to become a “substantive witness” in the case. The motion does not mention that Miller was one of a number of TV journalists to interview Allen on the same day. Miller has “stepped back” from covering the Gray case since details of her relationship were made public.
The motion also contends that another conflict of interest arises as Mosby accepted donations from the Gray family’s lead attorney, William Murphy Jr, before her election to the position last year. Murphy Jr donated $5,000 to Mosby’s campaign and has repeatedly denied any conflict of interest.
Mosby’s much lauded speech last Friday where she announced the charges and told the city’s residents “I will seek justice on your behalf,” is also cited as an example of the prosecutor’s “political and personal motivation”. The motion contends Mosby’s speech was in violation of the 14th amendment, which enshrines the right to equal protection under the law.
Marc Zayon, a lawyer for officer Edward Nero, who is one of the officers charged over Gray’s death with two counts of assault, two of misconduct and one of false imprisonment, said in a brief statement that the “motions speak for themselves”.
“We look forward to litigating the issues in court,” Zayon said. Nero is also bringing separate litigation against Mosby contending that Gray was arrested lawfully.
A spokesman for Marilyn Mosby did not respond to a request for comment.
Mosby has said repeatedly she has no intention of handing the case to a special prosecutor or of revealing any evidence before trial.
By: Oliver Laughland And Jon Swaine