Baltimore Judge Refuses to Try Officers Together, Will Try All 6 Police Brutality Charges Separately in Freddie Gray’s Murder Case
All six police officers who face police brutality and murder charges for the death of Freddie Gray will stand trial on their charges separately, the judge in Baltimore bolding ruled on Thursday, September 3rd.
The order comes after the defendants’ attorneys tried to group three of the six officers together into the same trial. However, Judge Barry Williams decided that evidence in one police brutality trial might not be admissible in another, and ruled that each of the police officers would stand trial separately for their part in the death of Freddie Gray four months ago.
Judge Williams also denied efforts on the part of Baltimore’s State Attorney Marilyn Mosby and her staff to have their charges dropped.
Freddie Gray died while in police custody from severe spinal injuries and trauma, according to a coroner’s report. Because Gray had no history of spinal problems, no pre-existing injuries, and was seen by witnesses to be on his feet while being escorted into a police van, the fatal spinal trauma is widely believed to be the result of police brutality.
Mosby faces charges for potentially inciting the riots after Gray’s death. A defense attorney claimed that her comments, prior to any investigation of the officers involved, claiming that Gray was murdered “make a fair trial impossible.”
“She was urging everyone, including potential jurors, to exact vengeance,” he said.
However, the victory for the protestors, as well as Gray’s family, involves the ruling that each of the officers will stand trial separately, which would allow all available evidence in each part of the case to be presented appropriately. Although the defense attorneys tried to argue that three of the officers showed “degrees of the same breach of care,” it is unlikely that they all played the same role in the fatal police brutality incident.
Charges against the officers range from involuntary manslaughter to murder. All six officers have pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges against them.
Judge Williams stated that his decision involving the police officers would prevent stronger charges, such as murder, from “spilling over” into the criminal charges for the officers facing involuntary manslaughter. One officer, Caesar R. Goodson, Jr, faces the toughest criminal charges – he has been charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, manslaughter by vehicle (both gross negligence and criminal negligence), misconduct in office, and reckless endangerment. No other officer outright murder charges, although three of the other officers – William G. Porter, Brian Rice, and Alicia White – all face manslaughter charges, while Edward M. Nero and Garrett E. Miller face assault charges. They all face charges for reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
The criminal trials are scheduled to begin in October. A gathering of protestors outside the courthouse remained peaceful, with a small incident near the Inner Harbor that led to the arrest of one well-known local protester and organizer.