Okay, so I was wrong; kind of. Good old Reverend Al Sharpton did show up in Baltimore. As you recall, I predicted that we would not see Reverend Sharpton in Baltimore as we did in Ferguson, Missouri because the primary actors in this event were members of the same left wing extremist team he is. In Ferguson the good Reverend insisted on the recusal by the District Attorney due to his possible prejudice against African American criminals based on previous life experiences involving the killing of a family member. He called for the resignation of the Police Chief, the Mayor and held prayer meeting type rallies to organize protests and encouraging the citizens of the town to be loud and be heard. So now in Baltimore, is the Reverend Sharpton repeating the same calls for justice as he did in Ferguson? Not exactly.
Reverend Sharpton went to Baltimore to protect the Mayor. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was noticeably struggling with this incident, attempting to balance her job with her extreme left wing philosophy. She was seen prior to this event as a rising political star and was apparently being groomed as a future Maryland gubernatorial candidate. After ordering the police to "stand down" and allow the looters to have their way ("it's only property") then denying making statements recorded on television broadcasts she appeared to be in way over her head and displayed a panic and an incompetence in handling civil disturbance events. Every day she was struggling to answer critical questions about her ability to lead and her statements she had made. Criticism about the use of the word "thug" to describe young people committing crimes of opportunity through violence and destruction caused her to waffle and attempt to apologize though the actions of these young people are defined in the dictionary as being "thugs". She was struggling mightily and has set her political career back quite a bit.
Enter Reverend Al; he located the mayor, took her by the arm and became her protector. Mayor Rawlings-Blake did not say a word in public until the criminal charges were made against the Baltimore officers. Though Reverend Al promised reporters she would answer questions during his brief speech at a local church to organize a march to Washington, D.C. to protest police brutality in general, he snuck her out the back door and hid her from public view. Reverend Sharpton came to Baltimore with an entirely different mission than the one in Ferguson; protect the team and save a rising political star from herself. After all, there are absolutely no similarities in Baltimore and Ferguson at all and are completely different in nature, right? Not exactly.
In Ferguson, Reverend Sharpton wanted to hold the Mayor responsible for the town's Police Department because he was responsible for the actions of the town employees. How is Ms. Rawlings-Blake any different? She apparently has the authority to tell the Police Commissioner to "stand down" and not make arrests or intervene in criminal activity. This order affected the African American community exclusively yet no condemnation of the Mayor has come from Reverend Sharpton, the Governor of Maryland, the U.S Attorney General or even the President. They all chimed in on Ferguson. What about the Maryland State Attorney for Baltimore, Marilyn Mosby; she reportedly has numerous family members with law enforcement experience and is married to the City Councilman that represents the neighborhood where the rioting and looting is occurring. Should she recuse herself from this case as Reverend Sharpton and others insisted the District Attorney in Ferguson do? How about the Police Commissioner Anthony Batts; Mr. Sharpton has not insisted on his resignation as he did repeatedly in Ferguson. This is a Commissioner that served as Chief in Oakland, California prior to becoming the Commissioner in Baltimore; the same Oakland, California that was taken over by a Federal Judge in 2011 while he was Chief. The same Oakland Police Department that paid out approximately $58 million in settlements for alleged "police abuse" cases from 2003-2012. With that kind of background, why isn't Reverend Al calling for his head?
None of these city officials are being scrutinized in Baltimore as they were in Ferguson. It is an example of a hypocritical double standard based on political views with inexperienced city leaders allowing themselves to be played like puppets on a string for the cause of extremism. The insistence on rushing to file charges on the 6 officers in this case cannot have possibly been investigated thoroughly. Ms. Mosby indicated in her "speech" announcing the triumphant charging of these officers that her staff had conducted the investigation. Did she not use the detectives at BPD? What criteria did she use to establish probable cause? Was a "preliminary" toxicology report sufficient to determine or rule out a possible cause of death? What if the full report shows a presence of narcotics much greater than "recreational" use indicating the decedent ingested narcotics he was holding as he was being chased to avoid prosecution? Did this ingesting cause reactions to his health and well being resulting in seizure or violent bodily reactions? WHEN exactly did this death occur? How did you determine that the actions of all 6 officers linked together to cause this death? Is the "chain of evidence" consistent and unbroken? What witnesses or evidence exists that proves this?
Already inconsistencies from a criminal investigative and procedural standpoint exist. If the Baltimore PD detectives were not involved, were administrative interviews of the 6 officers being conducted? Criminal investigations involving police officers take precedent over administrative investigations because the protection under the law for "self incrimination" is greater in a criminal case. Information gained in administrative investigations cannot be used in criminal investigations in most cases especially if the right to an attorney being present has not been communicated. Administrative interviews are not "voluntary" and you cannot simply walk away from them without risking termination as you can a non-custodial criminal interview. If you are "in custody" you have to be advised of your rights under Miranda. Did Ms. Mosby use information gained from the officers she charged to make her determination and if so, how was that information obtained?
Then there is the Medical Examiners report; as first reported the broken neck suffered by the decedent was determined accidental with the injury to his spine being consistent with the striking of a bolt located on the transport van door. After "meetings" the next morning the finding of accidental was changed to homicide. Apparently this change in classification was enough for Ms. Mosby to decide to make these charges. Why the change? After the change, why the rush to obtain warrants without further investigation? The second prisoner in the van stated that the decedent was "banging his head and body against the inside of the van, apparently trying to injure himself", only to change his story the next day after a "meeting" in which his name was somehow leaked to the public. Who leaked his name? Why the significant change in statement? Is Ms. Mosby counting on one or more of the 6 officers to "roll" on the others? Even if this happens, this is a lot of damage to 6 careers and reputations if you have not gotten this right. Ms. Mosby has already refused to call in a special prosecutor, apparently believing there is no conflict of interest or maybe fearing a special prosecutor will not see "eye to eye" with her evaluation of the evidence. Even though she might be able to find a "hired gun" that is "on the same team" to take the case a high profile lawyer of great talent is not going to risk his reputation on a case he cannot win.
Ms. Mosby has almost 10 years experience as a practicing attorney; 7 as an Assistant State Attorney and 3 working for an insurance company. She took her Oath of Office on January 8, 2015. Even an average lawyer defending these 6 officers would love for her to keep this case in house. Her statements regarding hearing the voices of "no justice, no peace" and even referring to those sentiments as nationwide as well as using "we" when referring to justice in this case indicate a lack of professionalism and reeks of political rhetoric. The charges she placed on these officers are almost "unprovable" without several witnesses as they include intent or gross negligence. Even the charge placed on the driver of the van, 2nd Degree Depraved Heart Murder, which in Maryland allows a prosecutor to convict without proving "intent" still has to prove that the defendant knowingly did something that was likely to kill or showed extreme indifference. Many law professors and TV defense lawyers are already calling the charges on all 6 officers "un-winnable". In my experience no case in un-winnable as juries are fickle entities. But to win these cases, a LOT has to fall into place.
A change in venue has to be denied. This in and of itself seems a near impossibility based on the emotional state of the jurisdiction and the high profile media coverage this case has already has received. A change in venue to a jurisdiction that is not under pressure to preserve it's own peace and order will not hesitate to properly deliberate and come to a decision based on the evidence. Only if a weak judge or one that is on the same political "team" is assigned will a denial of change in venue occur and even that decision is subject to appeal.
Will the Baltimore Police Department assist from an investigative standpoint? Officers are already doing hidden identity interviews bashing the Mayor, the State's Attorney and the Police Administration who they refer to as the "Oakland guys" and feel as if the rank and file officers have been sold out. They are all openly disgusted with the Mayor for ordering them to "stand down" and watch the neighborhoods they have invested in protecting be destroyed. Can the attorneys in the Baltimore State's Attorney's office sufficiently investigate and adjudicate this case without seasoned law enforcement investigators? If Ms. Mosby bypasses the BPD and attempts to get the State Police to investigate will the Baltimore officers cooperate other than to support the charged 6? It seems Ms. Mosby has put her cases and her reputation as a prosecutor in jeopardy for the sake of political approval or gain. That jeopardy could result in much more than a lose of a case. Beside the civil disorder that is already being threatened should an acquittal occur, what cost will the city incur as a result of the 6 law suits for back pay and damage of reputations that are sure to follow; all of which will be very winnable. That will be a heavy price to pay simply to be loyal to your political "team".
When these cases are lost, be it by a lack of evidence or a poor, incomplete investigation, what blame will the "team" assign while Baltimore burns again?