Two central issues in the death of Freddie Gray

Suspect Dies Baltimore

Six Baltimore police officers have been charged with crimes including second-degree murder, manslaughter and assault in the death of Freddie Gray.

According to prosecutors, the officers bound Gray’s hands behind his back, tied his ankles together and left him face-down on his stomach, unrestrained and helpless, on the floor of the van while it careened through the streets of Baltimore. The fatal injuries that Gray sustained allegedly occurred as he slid and bounced off the walls of the van, at one point hitting his head on a protruding bolt. In short, prosecutors allege, his injuries were inflicted by police on purpose.

That is a very different story than the account leaked to the media this week by Baltimore police sources. In that version, a second prisoner riding in another section of the van had told police that Gray had been throwing himself against the walls of the van on purpose, intentionally trying to injure himself. (The second prisoner could hear but not see Gray.)

It would seem very difficult for a prisoner bound hand and foot, laying face down on the floor, to fling himself on purpose against the van walls. Furthermore, the second prisoner has now come forward to contradict that conveniently leaked police document. Donta Allen says that he did hear Gray bounce off the walls and scream for a few seconds, but he had never suggested that Gray was doing it intentionally.

Allen added that after the van reached police headquarters, officers were joking with each that “We gave (Gray) a run for his money.” As the Baltimore Sun had previously reported, Baltimore police have a documented practice of using “rough rides” to inflict injuries on suspects.

It’s important to note that the officers are innocent until proved guilty and deserve the due process that Gray did not get. But there’s another central aspect to this case that cannot be overlooked.

In her statement this morning, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby revealed that contrary to their claims, police had no probable cause to arrest Gray in the first place. The pocketknife that police cited as an illegal switchblade, and that supposedly constituted probable cause, was not a switchblade at all and in fact was just a pocketknife, perfectly legal under Maryland law.

The false police report of a switchblade, and the leaking of an apparently false report about Gray trying to injure himself, suggest a much deeper problem, a cultural problem within the Baltimore police department. Yes, it’s a scandal when police officers kill and injure people outside the law, but that scandal is compounded when people — and police officers — believe that officers will not be held accountable, that they will be protected even if it means that evidence must be hidden or altered. When that happens, it’s no longer a case of an officer or two behaving badly. It’s a case of the entire department being corrupt.

In this case, without the marches and protests that have forced a much closer inspection of the evidence in Freddie Gray’s death, it is exceedingly unlikely that charges would have been filed and that justice would be done. If we do not address this second issue — if we do not create a system of credible, thorough, outside investigations of alleged law enforcement excesses not just in Baltimore but everywhere — then it will be much more difficult to address the first issue of police brutality. They are two sides to the same bloody coin.

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1502 comments
lvg
lvg

Is it appropriate tocall Sherriff Hill a thug? or is that title not pc?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

The belief that people can "get there" totally on their own is naïve.


The citizens of this nation need to galvanize, once again, around a national movement of social justice for poor people in this nation, especially for poor black people who never have fully recovered from the stigma and destructiveness of America's Jim Crow years. 


Social action of a meaningful, impacting nature ended in America 35 years ago, with the election of Republican President Ronald Reagan.  The foundation was laid, and the footwork was accomplished, for this national change of societal focus in the mid-1970s (when ALEC was formed).  This new American societal focus became powerful (and made manifest) with the election of Ronald Reagan, who kicked off his presidential campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi.

bratl
bratl

Great piece Jay

NWGAL
NWGAL

So now certain cops are using deliberately bad driving to replace personally beating up suspects. I guess in some circles that is considered an improvement. Cops have a colossally horrible job but add sadism to the mix and you have monsters in blue.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@NWGAL 

From what I read the other day in NYTimes, Baltimore had enough lawsuits about this that the police instituted a strict policy of using seat belts for offenders being transported in police vans. I would guess that when the prosecutor learned that no seat-belts had been used for Freddie Gray, she immediately knew what had happened. That's why she charged the officers so fast.

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

The victory gathering in Baltimore is huge, but it is nothing compared to the celebration that's going down when the modern Republican party disbands.


MiltonMan
MiltonMan

@St_Simons_he-ne-ha 


It is alive and well in GA clown.  You libs keep electing morons like Tyrone Brooks and Sheriff Hill and the GOP will only get stronger here.

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

 Hundreds were killed and thousands captured, enslaved and raped by the isis extremists, who consider the members of the religious minority devil worshippers.


Some presidents allow this to happen and some don't. And I'm not talking about a major land war either, so stop shrieking. But do something more than de minimis. Act like you care. Bereave a little. One could easily mistake this as approval of all these Christians getting slaughtered. Some of us already have.



 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3065517/Isis-militants-slaughter-300-Yazidi-captives-northern-Iraq-thousands-taken-captive-villages.html#ixzz3Z1pgY0MU 
 

LeninTime
LeninTime

@Bruno2 

The problem, however, is that once word gets out that you can get out of paying with no consequences, we'll end up like Greece

***

God, you're so deluded. 

This has nothing whatsoever to do with that is going on in Greece, one of the hardest working countries in Europe, despite all the capitalist propaganda from the EU. Nothing.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@LeninTime @Bruno2 You don't think the widespread refusal of Greek citizens, including the very wealthy, to pay their taxes has anything to do with their imminent economic collapse??  That Leftist clown they elected isn't helping much.

NWGAL
NWGAL

Well, our wealthy export their wealth to avoid taxes. Can't really accuse the Greek wealthy of being different from the Romney types here.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

I've read the media's countless versions of what may or may not have happened in the van. 

Have they ever considered waiting until the investigation is complete?

Is this version the truth or will there be another following this one?

An irresponsible media sows the seeds of doubt and then wonders why there are so many skeptics among us.  

Robtown
Robtown

@FIGMO2 @Doggone_GA I'd say broken vertebrae and a severed spinal cord would be more than a few bumping sounds.

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@FIGMO2 "Have they ever considered waiting until the investigation is complete?"

The investigation IS complete, that's why the case went to the prosecutor

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Doggone_GA

Mr. Allen (the other passenger) was interviewed by WBALTV in Baltimore and he claimed it was a smooth ride all the way to the police station. Allen was picked up after Mr. Gray, but he said he heard a few bumping sounds from the other side...maybe four. He then says when they get to the station, he heard the officers calling Mr. Gray's name asking him if he was alright. Nothing about the officers laughing and joking that they had given Mr. Gray "a run for his money".

The guy doesn't seem very reliable to me.

I can try to find the on-camera interview if you'd like.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Robtown

I'm just repeating what the ear witness said. Unless one of the officers turned on another or there was a confession, I'm not seeing what's being claimed.

I'm not saying it didn't happen that way, just that I've yet to be convinced. Hopefully the trial will give us more evidence.

UncleLeo
UncleLeo

@FIGMO2 @Robtown Fig, we've already decided what happened based on what people said on those television shows………and it fits what we want to believe so that's good too.

Robtown
Robtown

@FIGMO2 @Robtown I'm actually waiting to see what happens as well. 


What I think I know is this, he asked for his asthma medicine. He was constrained by cuffs (hands behind his back) and foot restraints. He was laid in the back of the van on his stomach. A police van has a smooth metal floor (so I've been told...). 


A good hard stomp on the brakes would probably be enough to make him slide and smash into the front of the van with no way to stop himself or protect his head.


Maybe he managed to get up and he threw himself against the side of the van headfirst as hard as could. Seems like a fairly stupid thing to do, but I wasn't there...


Then looking at all this, and taking into account the history of the department in question. (I believe I saw something along the lines of they've paid out 5 mill +/- since 2011 for things like "rough rides"...


I'm just saying. 


I don't WANT these six to be guilty of anything. You probably don't realize it, but I came down squarely on the side of law enforcement in the Ferguson mess. I, like you in this instance, didn't find the "eye witnesses" believable. It just didn't smell right.


I don't believe any of the six in Baltimore meant to KILL anybody.

Doggone_GA
Doggone_GA

@FIGMO2 @Doggone_GA "Mr. Allen (the other passenger) was interviewed by WBALTV in Baltimore and he claimed it was a smooth ride all the way to the police station"

He was not in the van the entire time.  He was put in at the 4th (unreported) stop.  So he doesn't know what happened BEFORE his part of the ride.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Doggone_GA

He was not in the van the entire time.

Understood, but he knows there were bumping sounds coming from the other side of the van so that would indicate Mr. Gray was still alive. In one instance he says the officers, upon arriving at the station, were calling Mr. Gray's name. In another account, he claims they were laughing and joking about giving Mr. Gray the "ride of his life".

Which is it?

LeninTime
LeninTime

@Bruno2 

How do socialist/communist systems deal with folks who don't want to work??  

***
Those who don't want to work? You mean like the capitalist rentiers? 

They want to abolish them.  :-)

notagain
notagain

Wild azaleas in bloom(honeysuckle)to you hillbilly's,lake full,all the wild shrubs blooming,along with the blackberries.Great time of year.Be happy,be thankful.

Bruno2
Bruno2

To Bro, Penses, td and Robtown.  Enjoyed the back and forth.  It's really fun being here when we don't have all of the repetitious name-calling.

P.S. to VC--You didn't like even one of my posts below.  ; > ]

Bruno2
Bruno2

Oops, forgot Capt Obvious in my list.  Even he has been nicely behaved today.  ; > }

td1234
td1234

@Bruno2 Agreed. It is nice to debate without the all the name calling where you can have an intellectual conversation.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@td1234 @Bruno2 Even if we disagree, or don't present the greatest argument on occasion, I just don't see the justification for some of the vicious personal attacks I see here.  Look back in the archives, and it's the same folks, over and over.

Captain-Obvious
Captain-Obvious

@Bruno2 Since Jay issued his "Be nice or be gone" edict, those folks who cause me to respond in kind have been much nicer, Bruno.

td1234
td1234

@Bruno2 @td1234 It seems to me that the better a person's point to more viscous the attacks become. Yes, I get myself caught up in them from time to time but a day like today is very refreshing. Even with MES:-)

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Bruno2 

didn't like even one of my posts below

I'm sure I will when/if I get around to reading 'em!


Bruno2
Bruno2

@Visual_Cortex @Bruno2 You liked Bro's posts all around mine during my back and forth with him.

Just yanking your chain.  Cons don't live for the "likes" around here.  If we did, we'd be fools.

Robtown
Robtown

@Bruno2 Absolutely. It's been a pleasure and informative.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@MaryElizabethSings 

 I do not make everything between Democrats and Republicans a necessary equivalency, which is a current accepted fad and lazy intellectual way out, in viewing these two parties, in my opinion

**
Are the Democrats and Republicans equivalent? Well, no. If they were then they wouldn't be two parties, they'd be one. But are they different enough to justify fighting for one against the other? 

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but they are not, as both serve the same master, and that master is the mortal enemy of the people.

Eugene Debs perhaps said it best when he said that the Democrats and Republicans are two wings of the same bird of prey.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@MaryElizabethSings @LeninTime He speaks of some vague upcoming revolution, but I just don't see it.  The current civil unrest is a little disturbing, but I don't think it represents any type of movement.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@IReportYouWhine#1 

I like that gruber dude, by the way, sits in front of a room full of economic fascists and tells them

**
What's an economic fascist? 

Is it someone who cuts off water to the poor? Or throws the unemployed off benefits?

Bruno2
Bruno2

@Visual_Cortex @LeninTime @IReportYouWhine#1 How do socialist/communist systems deal with folks who don't want to work??  I honestly don't know, do you??  I've heard of Section 8 folks getting thrown out for not paying their $50 per month contribution.  What do you do with those who refuse to pay even a pittance??

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@Bruno2 @Visual_Cortex @LeninTime @IReportYouWhine#1 

I think the short answer is you do a cost benefit analysis for what it costs to keep truly, chronically lazy people who don't avail themselves of the work/education opportunities cheerfully provided to them fed and housed, vs. in and out of jail, and you act accordingly.

Of course the "cheerfully provided" bit is something we Mericans aren't anywhere near doing yet.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@Recon2/3 

Do you think police should have license to conduct summary executions and/or rough up suspects to the point of death without consequence? Is that good for society to invest police with that power?