Protests in Baltimore over the arrest and death of Freddie Gray

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by The Wrong Guy, Apr 27, 2015.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    Judge in Freddie Gray case: Gag order needed to ensure fair trials for officers | The Washington Post

    The judge presiding over the Freddie Gray trials filed a written gag order this week, saying it is necessary to ensure fair trials for the six officers charged in the high-profile case.

    “There is a substantial likelihood that certain forms of publicity, such as extrajudicial statements by the parties involved in this case to members of the press or media, could impair the rights of the Defendant, the State and the public to a fair trial by an impartial jury,” Judge Barry G. Williams wrote in the order that was made available online Friday.

    Prosecutors requested the gag order in May, but Williams only recently barred attorneys from talking about the case.

    “Do not discuss my ruling and do not discuss this case,” Williams ordered attorneys at the close of a pretrial hearing Tuesday.


    Six officers have been charged in Gray’s death: Officers Caesar R. Goodson Jr., William G. Porter, Edward M. Nero and Garrett E. Miller; Sgt. Alicia D. White; and Lt. Brian W. Rice.

    Goodson, who drove the van, faces the most serious charges, including second-degree depraved-heart murder. Porter, Rice and White have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and related charges. All six are charged with misconduct in office, second-degree assault and reckless endangerment.

    The the first trial, for Porter, is slated to begin Nov. 30. Remaining trials are scheduled from January to March of next year.
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  2. The Wrong Guy Member

    Records show city police had long urged seat belt use in vans | Baltimore Sun

    At the time of Freddie Gray's death last spring, the Baltimore Police Department had been waging a nearly three-year campaign urging officers to use seat belts for detainees transported in police vans, newly obtained documents show.

    The department sent memos to commanders stressing seat belt use, held training sessions on the practice and regularly conducted unannounced spot checks to make sure detainees were secured in vans, according to documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun through a public records request.

    The campaign started in May 2012 after several detainees sued the department for injuries allegedly received while being transported. By September 2014 — seven months before Gray's arrest — a department spot check of 17 transported prisoners found that all 17 had been buckled into seat belts, the documents show.

    Gray died in April of a severe spinal cord injury sustained in police custody after he was placed unsecured in the back of a transport van, the state medical examiner's office found. The office concluded that the death could not be ruled an accident, and was instead a homicide, because officers failed to follow safety procedures "through acts of omission."

    City Solicitor George Nilson said the spot checks, called audits, show the Police Department was taking seriously the issue of prisoner injuries in police vans. "I know they were paying attention to the issue," Nilson said.

    The audits also suggest that the education campaign was working, which could help prosecutors prove some of the most serious charges against the officers involved in Gray's arrest, said David Jaros, a law professor at the University of Baltimore.

    "It would mean they were more aware of the risk of harm and chose to go about it anyway," Jaros said.

    Prosecutors would have to prove that the officers had been aware of the education campaign, he said. If they could, he said, "it would bolster their argument that the officers acted recklessly when they failed to seat-belt Freddie Gray."

    Legal observers said the Police Department's concerted effort to prevent detainee injuries during transport could figure prominently in the trials of the officers charged in Gray's death.

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  3. The Wrong Guy Member

    Watch: Baltimore cop suspended for spitting in handcuffed black man’s face — then charging him with assault

    A 34-year veteran on the Baltimore Police Department has been suspended and is facing possible criminal charges after cell phone video showed him spitting in the face of a handcuffed black man whom he then charged with assault, reports WBAL.

    Sergeant Robert Mesner has been placed on leave by interim Police Chief Kevin Davis over the incident earlier this week when Mesner arrested 31-year-old Alfred Evan who had been arguing with the officer after he broke up a group standing and talking on a porch.

    In the video, Mesner can be seen following Evan and his companions as one of them complained that the cop was trying to provoke them. Mesner then grabs Evan, forcing him to the ground and handcuffing him before turning him on his side and spitting in his face.

    A woman at the scene can be heard exclaiming, “You spit on him. He just spit on him!”

    Mesner then took Evan into custody while another police officer held off the angry crowd by brandishing his Taser.

    As Evan is placed into the back of a police van, a woman can be heard shouting, “You won’t Freddie Gray that one!” in reference to a black Baltimore man who recently died while in police custody.

    According to police reports, Evan was charged with second-degree assault of a law enforcement officer, second-degree assault, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct.

    After viewing video of the incident, Chief Davis suspended Mesner, telling reporters, “The video appears to depict the police sergeant spitting on the arrestee. That is outrageously unacceptable, and it directly contradicts the necessary community relationships we are striving to rehabilitate. The police powers of Sgt. Robert Mesner are now suspended, and a criminal investigation is underway. Our entire community deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

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  4. The Wrong Guy Member

    Baltimore Cop With Long History of Complaints Suspended for Being "Disruptive" With Gun at 7-11 While Off-Duty

    By Carlos Miller, PINAC

    Responding to a call about a man with a gun being disruptive in a 7-11 convenience store earlier this month, Baltimore police arrived and discovered it was one of their own, a cop named Fabien Laronde who has a long history of complaints against him during his 14-year career.

    But because he is a cop, Baltimore police are under no obligation to inform the public about what took place the night of October 4, the night before his birthday.

    All they can say is that he is suspended with pay as police “investigate” the incident at the 7-11.

    WBAL-TV called 7-11’s corporate officers, who referred calls to police. And while police say he is “under investigation,” they were clear to let the news station know that it was not a “criminal investigation,” which usually only applies to non-police officers.

    And yes, there is likely video of the incident, but don’t count on that being released any time soon.

    But do count on him being back on the beat soon.

    Laronde, after all, is a cop who has been accused of everything from planting drugs to stealing drugs to strip searching people for drugs in public without probable cause.

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  5. The Wrong Guy Member

    Mother Of Freddie Gray Tries To Take Her Own Life | CBS Baltimore

    WJZ has confirmed with multiple sources in the past hour that Gloria Darden, the mother of Freddie Gray, tried to take her life late Wednesday night.

    The call came in around 9:35 p.m. Wednesday for a person needing medical attention in a north Baltimore neighborhood.

    Sources tell WJZ that’s where Gloria Darden, the mother of Freddie Gray, attempted suicide and sustained superficial wounds.

    Sources say Darden was transported to a nearby hospital and no surgery or stitches were needed.
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  6. The Wrong Guy Member

    Officer William Porter trial: Freddie Gray case live coverage | The Baltimore Sun

    Jurors in the trial of Officer William Porter reported Tuesday afternoon that they were deadlocked - but Judge Barry Williams sent them back to continue deliberating.

    Jurors have asked to wrap for the day at 5:30.

    Police officers from neighboring jurisdictions have begun staging in Baltimore in preparation for unrest that local commanders hope never materializes.
  7. The Wrong Guy Member

  8. The Wrong Guy Member

    Freddie Gray trial hung jury | The Baltimore Sun

    Whether inaction by Baltimore Police Officer William Porter during the arrest of Freddie Gray amounted to a crime is a difficult question, and we were not surprised to see the jury in his trial struggle with it. Judge Barry Williams' decision to declare a mistrial after jurors failed to come to a unanimous decision on any of the four charges Mr. Porter faced no doubt will serve as a disappointment to those who wished for the verdict in this case to send a clear and unambiguous message.

    What the trial revealed with great clarity, though, were the failings of the Baltimore City Police Department. We're not sure whose depiction of it was worse: the prosecution's account of police who express a callous indifference to the lives of those they arrest and then lie to cover for each other, or the defense's picture of a department so rife with incompetence that their client's failures were entirely unexceptional.

    Prosecutors didn't just accuse Mr. Porter of lying or engaging in a cover-up. They suggested that the department has a "stop snitching" code for its officers just as repulsive as the one on the streets. And the defense attorneys didn't just portray Mr. Porter as an inexperienced cop who was following the lead of experienced officers. They drew a picture of a department where training is cursory and where standards of conduct are routinely ignored — if officers even bother to read them in the first place.

    But what the lawyers said was nowhere near as damaging as the testimony of the police officers themselves. Baltimore police called as character witnesses for Mr. Porter's defense said that they almost never followed general orders requiring the use of seat belts in police vans, notwithstanding the department's multi-year crusade to improve compliance or the memo strengthening the requirement that was issued shortly before Gray's arrest. Mr. Porter testified that he didn't seat belt Gray because he was afraid that doing so would expose his gun — despite the fact that Gray's hands were cuffed behind his back, his feet were shackled and he was not by the defendant's own account causing any disturbance. What's worse, an 18-year veteran of the Baltimore department who is now the police chief in Charlottesville, Va., backed that up as entirely reasonable.


    Time will tell whether justice for Freddie Gray will involve criminal convictions of any of the officers involved in his arrest, but the process has already served as a stinging indictment of the police department. As the jurors in Baltimore were giving up, reports emerged from Ferguson, Mo., that officials were near an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice on reforms related to the federal civil rights investigation into that city's policing practices that stemmed from the killing of Michael Brown last year. It is expected to involve extensive re-training of officers and federal monitoring to ensure compliance. Baltimore is in the midst of its own federal civil rights investigation, and if the testimony we've heard in recent days is any indication, this city's police force is in need of a major overhaul, too. Officer Porter may have gotten a mistrial, but the verdict on the department for which he serves could not be more clear.
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  9. The Wrong Guy Member

    Freddie Gray case: What's happening today after Porter mistrial | Baltimore Sun

    Prosecutors and defense attorneys met Thursday behind closed doors to decide what happens next in the case against Baltimore Police Officer William Porter — but did not set a new date for a retrial.

    "We're in the same spot as last night, essentially," said Terri Charles, a court spokeswoman.

    Mistrial in Freddie Gray’s death has both sides confused | Associated Press

    Freddie Gray mistrial tarnishes image of Baltimore police | Associated Press
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  10. Disambiguation Global Moderator

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  11. The Wrong Guy Member

    Why you should know what happened in Freddie Gray’s life — long before his death | The Washington Post

    The general statistical profile of the West Baltimore community where Freddie Grey grew up is something most people think they know, even if the details are not committed to memory.

    Here is the truth: The abbreviated and not at all easy life of Freddie Gray was, to some extent, shaped by Gray's choices. He was an American and an adult with at least some of the attendant free will that people assume comes with either status.

    But it is also a life altered and quite likely distorted by the net effects of where and how the wealthy country into which he was born and its voters have decided to distribute its resources. Freddie Gray was an American failed more often by his country than served by it. And yet again this week, after a mistrial was declared in the first of six cases against police officers in whose custody Gray died, only the details of his death have become the subject of any real and sustained public discussion.

    In this, an already heated presidential election cycle, there is much more about the life of Freddie Gray that is worthy of examination — real political issues. You see, Baltimore might be the biggest city in one of the nation's wealthiest states. But for the people in many of its neighborhoods, those resources are most readily used in ways that a growing body of economists, sociologists and mental health experts now argue do far more harm than good.

    Consider the following, which is culled from federal data, a deep dive into Gray's path through the criminal justice system written by Buzz Feed's Nicolas Medina Mora, the Baltimore Sun's extensive reporting — including this helpful timeline — and multiple reports from The Washington Post.

    In the area where Gray lived, data-finding efforts often group a trio of communities as one — Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park. Here, the unemployment rate averaged a stunning 51.8 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to a Justice Policy Institute report published in February. More than 30 percent of those who are fortunate enough to have jobs must travel 45 minutes or more to get to them. The median household income hovers just over $24,000 a year, and in 2012, there were roughly 19 deaths for every 1,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24.

    A full 25 percent of children ages 10 to 17 have spent time in a juvenile facility. That's a quarter of Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park children. That figure is also roughly equal to the share of kids in these communities who are likely to graduate from high school. And more than 7 percent of these same children have levels of lead in their blood — impulse-control and academic-ability-damaging lead — that meet or exceed the state standard for poisoning.

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  12. The Wrong Guy Member

    Freddie Gray case: Officer William Porter’s new trial set for June 13 | The Washington Post

    A Baltimore police officer whose case in the death of Freddie Gray ended in a mistrial last week is set to go to trial again in June.

    Officer William G. Porter’s new trial, scheduled to begin June 13, will come after five other officers charged in the case are set to go to court in the next three months.

    The new schedule could prove to be a challenge for prosecutors, who have said they expected Porter would be a key witness against at least two other officers charged in the case. With his trial now scheduled to be held last, Porter can invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and decline to testify against his colleagues, said Warren Alperstein, a defense attorney and former Baltimore prosecutor.

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  13. Disambiguation Global Moderator

    I'm glad they are retrying.
  14. The Wrong Guy Member

    Jurors asked not to talk, documents filed under seal in Freddie Gray case | Baltimore Sun

    Judge Barry G. Williams has taken extraordinary steps to limit the information that becomes public in the criminal case against six Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, including asking jurors not to talk about the first trial even after he declared a mistrial.

    Reached by The Baltimore Sun, attorney Susan Elgin confirmed that she had served as a juror in the trial of Officer William G. Porter. After the 12 jurors deadlocked, she said, Williams asked them not to discuss the case with the news media.

    "I would very much like to talk about my experience as a juror," said Elgin, a family law attorney who has served as chair of the Maryland Commission for Women. "However, Judge Williams asked the jurors not to discuss our service with the press. I want to honor that request and respect the process."

    The judge's request was one of several steps taken to limit the public release of information in the case.

    While legal experts say judges have wide latitude to control court proceedings and the flow of information, there are constitutional restrictions on that power. It is a delicate balancing act to ensure a fair trial for the defendant and to be transparent enough that the public is assured that justice is served, experts said.

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  15. The Wrong Guy Member

    Freddie Gray case: Judge orders Officer Porter to testify in fellow officer's trial | Baltimore Sun

    Justin Fenton ‏@justin_fenton 8 minutes ago
    Breaking: Officer Porter's defense attorney just filed for an injunction to try to stop him from being compelled to testify against co-defendants.

    Officer Porter asks appeals court to block order compelling him to testify in Goodson case | Baltimore Sun
  16. The Wrong Guy Member

  17. The Wrong Guy Member

    Freddie Gray Arresting Officer Nero Found Not Guilty On All Charges | CBS Baltimore

    Freddie Gray arresting officer Edward Nero was found not guilty on all counts by Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams Monday morning.

    Nero faced second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and two counts of misconduct in office.

    Nero waived his right to a trial by jury. His bench trial began May 12 and final arguments were heard Thursday.

    WJZ’s Ron Matz says the trial was attended by a group of Baltimore City police officers, most in plain clothes. After the verdict was read, they came up to Nero one by one, embracing him and patting him on the back. Nero was seen with tears in his eyes.


    According to WJZ’s Mike Schuh, who was outside the courthouse, there was a huge “roar of disapproval” that came from the protesters outside.

    One of the people leading the charge is Rev. Wesley West.

    “I’m angry because this is what we deal with, and when I say ‘we,’ we’re talking about the black community and I’m a part of and represent that community as well, it seems like we have no voice when it comes to these issues,” he said. “When it comes to conversations like this, we’re not involved. This should have been a jury trial where the community had a voice in this case. Of course a system works in a system’s favor, that’s how I look at it. That judge represents the system, and the police officer represents a system, but they’re all one system working together. And again I don’t think case was actually tried fairly when it comes down the community being involved.”


    Nero is one of six officers who was charged in relation to Gray’s death, and the second to be tried. Officer William Porter’s trial ended in a hung jury and mistrial in December.


    Four other officers — Officer Garrett Miller, Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. — have not yet been tried.

    Goodson’s trial, which was already delayed once, is set to begin June 6. He was the driver of the van that transported Gray from the spot where he was arrested to the police station. When the van arrived at the Western District police station, Gray was already critically injured and unresponsive.

    Goodson faces charges of second-degree depraved heart murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of vehicular manslaughter and misconduct in office.

    “Officer Goodson’s case, factually, is a very different case than this one and so Officer Goodson’s attorneys are going to be weighing heavily the question whether they want to go forward with a jury trial or whether they want to go forward with a bench trial,” said Adam Ruther, an attorney with Rosenberg Martin Greenberg LLP.

    “This will certainly factor into their decision making as they have had a little bit of a glimpse at the way Judge Williams is looking at the case, but it certainly will not answer the question for them and that question is solely the defendant’s. The lawyers cannot make that decision for the defendant, they can only advise and help the defendant make that decision for himself.”

    Second Freddie Gray Trial Ends in Acquittal, Surprises No One | The Intercept

    Reaction to the not guilty verdict in the trial of Officer Edward Nero | Baltimore Sun
  18. The Wrong Guy Member

    Officer Found Not Guilty of Second-Degree Murder in Freddie Gray Trial | ABC News

    Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the third of six Baltimore City police officers to stand trial for their alleged role in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, was found not guilty of second-degree murder today by Judge Barry Williams.

    Freddie Gray case: Officer Caesar Goodson found not guilty on all charges | Baltimore Sun

    The Baltimore Police van driver accused of giving a "rough ride" that killed Freddie Gray was acquitted of all charges Thursday by Circuit Judge Barry Williams.

    Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 46, had faced the most serious charges of any of the six officers indicted in Gray's arrest and death last April, including a charge of second-degree depraved heart murder. Goodson was also acquitted of three counts of manslaughter, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

    His acquittal, which comes after Williams considered the charges for three days, throws the rest of the cases into jeopardy. The other officers charged face similar, but lesser accusations.

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  19. The Wrong Guy Member

    Outrage after Wagon Driver in Freddie Gray Case Found Not Guilty of All Charges

    Published by TheRealNews on June 23, 2016

    The Real News Network speaks to Baltimore activists and a legal scholar about Judge Barry Williams’ not-guilty ruling in the trial of Officer Caesar Goodson, who had been charged with murder.
  20. The Wrong Guy Member

  21. The Wrong Guy Member

    Judge acquits Baltimore police lieutenant in Freddie Gray death | Reuters


    A Maryland judge on Monday acquitted Baltimore police Lieutenant Brian Rice of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office for the April 2015 death of black detainee Freddie Gray.

    Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams handed down his verdict after a bench trial. Rice, 42, is the highest-ranking officer charged in Gray's death from a broken neck suffered in a police transport van.
  22. The Wrong Guy Member

    The Associated Press ‏@AP 21 minutes ago
    BREAKING: Prosecutor says `we do not believe that Freddie Gray killed himself,' stands by finding that his death was a homicide.

    Prosecutors drop remaining charges against officers in Freddie Gray case | The Associated Press


    Prosecutors have dropped the remaining charges against Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, bringing an end to the case without a conviction.

    Gray was a black man who was critically injured in the back of a police van in April 2015.

    The prosecutors' decision Wednesday comes after a judge had already acquitted three of the six officers charged in the case, including the van driver and another officer who was the highest-ranking of the group.

    A fourth officer had his case heard by a jury, who deadlocked and the judge declared a mistrial.

    Prosecutors had said Gray was illegally arrested after he ran away from a bike patrol officer and the officers failed to buckle Gray into a seat belt or call a medic when he indicated he wanted to go to a hospital.

    "We do not believe that Freddie Gray killed himself," one of the prosecutors said, noting that they stand by the finding that his death was a homicide.

    Freddie Gray's mother: Police lied about death | The Associated Press
  23. The Wrong Guy Member

    Wesley Cagle found guilty of assault for shooting Michael Johansen | Slate

    The death of Freddie Gray made national news for more than a year, as Baltimore County State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby went from bringing charges against six police officers, to overseeing their tumultuous prosecution and finally, earlier this month, giving up on the case. Gray’s death and the legal fallout that followed in its wake have been discussed as signal events in the recent debate over police violence and how society ought to deal with it.

    But a much less intensely scrutinized police misconduct case out of Baltimore, in which an officer stood accused of gratuitously firing his gun at an unarmed burglar after he was already incapacitated, arguably says more about the kinds of police behavior our criminal justice system will and will not tolerate.

    The officer at the center of the case, a 13-year veteran of the force named Wesley Cagle, was found guilty of assault, and not guilty of first or second degree attempted murder on Thursday. The verdict, as reported by Baltimore Sun reporter Alison Knezevich, reflects an apparent belief on the part of the jury that, while the officer wasn’t trying to kill the burglar he was apprehending, he did shoot at him without having a good reason to do so. According to Knezevich’s interview with the jury foreman, it appears that the jurors also felt Cagle had not told the truth when he claimed, at trial, that he had felt fear for his life when he made the decision to fire his weapon.

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  24. The Wrong Guy Member

    Baltimore police have racial bias, DOJ says | WMUR


    A Justice Department investigation found the Baltimore Police Department engaged in unconstitutional practices that led to disproportionate rates of stops, searches and arrests of African-Americans.

    The Department of Justice monitored the department's policing methods, including use of force, searches and arrests, for more than a year at the request of the Baltimore Police Department, after the 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

    The report, obtained Tuesday by CNN, attributed the widespread practices to "systemic deficiencies" in training, policies, supervision and accountability structures. The Justice Department will hold a press conference Wednesday in Baltimore to discuss the findings.

    "In the course of our investigation, we learned there is widespread agreement that BPD needs reform," the report said. From BPD officers, command staff and union representatives, to city leaders and advocacy groups, everyone who spoke to investigators agreed BPD had "significant problems" that undermined its efforts to police "constitutionally and effectively," the report said.

    "Nevertheless, work remains in part because of the profound lack of trust among these groups."

    The federal civil rights report comes weeks after charges were dropped against the remaining officers facing trial in Gray's death.

    Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, in a statement, said the report "will likely confirm what many in our city already know or have experienced firsthand."

    "While the vast majority of Baltimore City Police officers are good officers, we also know that there are bad officers and that the department has routinely failed to oversee, train or hold bad actors accountable."

    Gray, 25, died after suffering a neck injury while in police custody in April 2015, igniting protests and illuminating tension and distrust between the black community and Baltimore's police force.

    Mosby's statement added, "Since the death of Freddie Gray, a number of reforms have been put in place as a result of the prosecution of the six police officers. I'm positive that the Department of Justice report will lead to even more reforms, which is an important step in ensuring best practices for a fully functioning police-prosecutor relationship."

    Six officers faced charges ranging from second-degree depraved-heart murder to manslaughter to second-degree assault.

    But after a mistrial and the acquittals of two officers, Mosby announced on July 27 that all pending charges would be dropped, saying the criminal justice systems needs "real, substantive reforms" to hold officers accountable.

    "We could try this case 100 times, and cases just like it, and we would still end up with the same result," she said at the time.

    "There were individual police officers that were witnesses to the case, yet were part of the investigative team, interrogations that were conducted without asking the most poignant questions, lead detectives that were completely uncooperative and started a counter-investigation to disprove the state's case," Mosby said.

    Gray died a week after police stopped him on a Baltimore street. During his arrest, officers placed Gray in the back of a police van that made several stops.

    By the time the van arrived at the police station, Gray was unresponsive. His neck was broken and compressed, prosecutors said in court, comparing the spinal injury to those suffered after a dive into a shallow pool.

    The Department of Justice is conducting a separate investigation into Gray's death.

    In 2015, the Justice Department released an in-depth report into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The report found widespread civil rights abuses by authorities, including systematic racial discrimination in the Missouri city's police department and municipal court.

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  25. The Wrong Guy Member

    Vindication for Baltimore Police Critics — But No Action | The Intercept


    There is the woman being publicly strip-searched after being stopped for a missing headlight. There are the officers coercing sex from prostitutes in exchange for avoiding arrest, planting drugs on people they stopped, cursing “shut the fuck up bitch” because they are “the fucking law.” There is the supervisor telling officers “to arrest ‘all the black hoodies’ in a neighborhood.” There are officers using templates for arrests where they only had to fill in dates and names — the words “black male” were already inked in.

    Running to 163 pages, the Department of Justice report on the ongoing abuse inflicted upon African Americans by the Baltimore police is full of stories like these.

    The investigation was started shortly after Freddie Gray died of a severed spine after officers tossed him into a police van following a possibly illegal stop. Just last month, prosecutors dropped all charges against the remaining officers facing trial for Gray’s death after the first cases ended in acquittals.

    In the report released Wednesday, Justice Department investigators concluded that over five years, Baltimore officers made 10,163 unlawful arrests, and that the more than 300,000 pedestrian stops during that period were concentrated in predominantly African-American neighborhoods and often lacked reasonable suspicion.

    To Baltimore’s black residents, the findings were hardly news.

    “It’s sad that we need an official report to verify things Black citizens have been saying for decades,” Ralikh Hayes, a coordinator with the grassroots Baltimore BLOC, which denounces police abuse in Baltimore on a daily basis, wrote in a message to The Intercept.

    “You’re just saying what this community has been saying for the last 200 years,” echoed Michael Wood Jr., a former Baltimore police officer who turned to activism after blowing the whistle on the department’s abuse. “There’s cameras now, so you can’t deny it.”

    And as pattern and practice investigations of police departments have multiplied in recent years, skepticism is rising about what they can actually achieve. In Baltimore, quite possibly, it’s not much.

    Wood said many residents were skeptical even before the report came out. “The vast majority would be like, it doesn’t matter, nothing’s going to come of it, nothing ever comes of it, so what’s the point in even making the reports?”

    Some activists have lost faith in promises of reform, pushing instead for more radical transformations like civilian oversight and the defunding of abusive departments.

    “We think any DOJ investigation is useless unless we are talking about divesting and demilitarizing as a solution, because they don’t cause transformative change but Band-Aid solutions and Band-Aids can’t solve cancer,” said Hayes. “The culture of policing in this city is extremely corrupt and little things like policy reforms won’t fix it.”

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  26. The Wrong Guy Member

    Baltimore police union VP suspended for email calling protesters 'thugs' | Baltimore Sun


    A high-ranking official in the Baltimore police union with a history of making controversial statements — and getting disciplined for it — has once again landed in hot water, after suggesting protesters of a Maryland Fraternal Order of Police conference at the Inner Harbor on Sunday were "thugs" involved in violence.

    Lt. Victor Gearhart, first vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 in Baltimore, was suspended by Police Commissioner Kevin Davis on Monday morning after writing the comments in an email that he sent to the entire police department using his official department email account, according to sources familiar with the incident who were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

    In the email, Gearhart said union members attending the state FOP conference should "expect more bad behavior from the THUGS OF BALTIMORE," referring to the protesters — a dozen of whom were arrested for trespassing at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore on Sunday.

    "On the bright side maybe they will stop killing each other while they are protesting us," Gearhart wrote.


    In addition to criticizing the protesters, Gearhart dismissed the Justice Department's findings for "lack of scholarly objectivity and lack of statistical rigor."

    Gearhart blamed the "POLITICIZATION of Crime Fighting" on past politicians who demanded officers arrest people on minor offenses. Gearhart also said the Justice Department report was "heavy on anecdotes from questionable characters and light on provable facts."

    Gearhart's suspension is not his first time running afoul of department officials.

    In January, Gearhart was reassigned from patrol work to building security after engaging in an argument with activists on social media, after the activists pointed out past tweets he had written using a personal Twitter account. They called the tweets "offensive" and racist, and called for Gearhart to be fired.

    Gearhart had called protesters "thugs" in that incident as well, among other comments. At the time, Gearhart said his statements on Twitter did not represent the department. "It's my private opinions," he said.

    Davis at the time said Gearhart's comments did not "reflect the values" of the department, and reassigned Gearhart to the security role.

    Afterward, the union and Gearhart sued the police department in federal court, alleging his reassignment and the department's social media policy governing officers' online activities are unconstitutional.

    Baltimore Police instituted a five-page social media policy in November that prohibits members from posting on their personal social media pages "any discriminatory, gratuitously violent or similarly inappropriate written content, audio files, photographs, or other depictions that are contrary to the mission and effectiveness of the BPD."

    Michael Davey, Gearhart's attorney in the federal case — which is pending — declined to comment on his suspension on Monday.

    More here:
  27. The Wrong Guy Member

    Baltimore axes cop lawyer with neo-Nazi ties amid public outcry | New York Daily News


    The führer is over.

    A Baltimore attorney with neo-Nazi ties has been terminated amid concerns about his background in a city gripped by racial tension.

    Glen Allen had told the Daily News that his “awful experiences with black people” in the Army were behind his one -time membership in the National Alliance, which was once the country’s largest neo-Nazi group.

    Allen’s ties were exposed by the hate group monitoring Southern Poverty Law Center, which Allen belittled as a “censorship organization.”

    “I am reluctant to get on my knees and beg forgiveness from something like the Southern Poverty Law Center which I regard as a censorship organization,” Allen told the News after the organization published an article about his background.

    “The Southern Poverty Law Center profits from sensationally characterizing people as racist.

    “I was in the U.S. Army from 1978 to 1982 and I had some pretty awful experiences with black people there to be honest.

    “I lived in Germany and found the Germans were not as horrible as I had been told they were,” Allen said. “It made me very skeptical of some of the conduct of Israel.”

    Allen was hired by Baltimore to defend its cops against misconduct allegations. But officials said the city was immediately terminating its one-year contract with Allen, 65. He was not a city employee, officials said.

    “None of the historical facts and alleged facts recently publicized about Mr. Allen’s political views and affiliations were disclosed or discussed when his contract was agreed to,” said a statement from the office of Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

    “The Law Department does not as a general practice question its hired or contract attorneys about their political views.”

    Allen spoke to the News before his termination. He could not be reached again for comment after the city ended his contract.

    Allen’s beliefs and background have raised questions about his hiring in a city that has been trying to overcome racial tensions that peaked with the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray in police custody.

    Allen does not appear to have been involved in the Gray case, but was listed as an attorney for the Baltimore City Law Department in its defense against the 2015 lawsuit of Sabein Burgess, who served nearly two decades in prison and says police fabricated evidence.

    Continued here:
  28. The Wrong Guy Member

    WITNESS: Baltimore Cop Got Frustrated And Killed Korryn Gaines. It Wasn't Self-Defense | PINAC News


    A surprising eye witness saw the armed standoff that led to a Baltimore cop killing the young mother, Korryn Gaines last month in front of her child. Now, her family is suing the Balitmore County Police & Fire Department for wrongful death.

    Gaines’ death drew worldwide attention when Facebook pulled the plug on her live video broadcast of the standoff. When the live video ended, so did Gaines’ life. Baltimore County Police asked Facebook to pull the plug before killing Korryn Gaines. Activists have started a Facebook page to seeking justice for Gaines and an end to Facebook’s censorship of live video involving the interaction between citizens and police.

    Ramon Coleman was the eye witness, and he said the cop who shot Gaines shot her out of frustration, and not self-defense, attorneys revealed Tuesday at a press conference. Gaines’ family revealed this key detail after filing civil lawsuit against Baltimore County, and the killer Baltimore cop identified only as Officer Ruby.

    It wasn’t his first kill either. It turns out, Officer Ruby also fatally shot Adam Benjamin Rothstein, who was armed with a BB gun in 2007, according to the Baltimore Sun. Coleman was an apartment away when police singled out Gaines to not only serve misdemeanor warrants on at her home, which is uncommon, but kicked in the door to her apartment after she chose not to answer it after police knocked.

    According to, a Baltimore SWAT Unit illegally commandeered Coleman’s apartment to monitor the standoff with Gaines. Coleman was confined against his will as the SWAT team set up their systems and operation. Baltimore cops negotiated with Gaines for about six hours before shooting and killing her.

    Coleman was able to hear dialogue between Gaines and see some of the interaction between Gaines and police through the entryway since the door was at times left cracked open during so-called negotiations. During the first hour, Coleman reported hearing Gaines, who held a shotgun, negotiating with the cops who forcefully and illegally broke into her home. “You put yours down, I’ll put mine down,” she proposed. They refused.

    About six hours later, officer Ruby grew frustrated, lost his cool and took matters into his own hands yelling, “I’m sick of this shit, put the gun down!” Immediately, several bullets were fired, which killed Gaines in front of her 5-year-old son. Either Ruby is a terrible shot, or a bullet ricocheted and struck him in the cheek.

    Baltimore cops denied having body cameras, but the lawyers for Gaines family have faith their witness paints a clear enough picture about what actually happened. “He did not shoot her because he was in fear that she posed a threat to him or other officers,” explained J. Wyndal Gordon, an attorney representing the Gaines family. “They had been with Ms. Gaines for approximately seven hours, He shot Ms. Gaines out of frustration, and that is not a legitimate basis for shooting and killing an individual,” he added.

    Continued here:
  29. The Wrong Guy Member

    No charges against officers in standoff that killed Korryn Gaines | New York Daily News


    The Baltimore-area police officers involved in a standoff that killed Korryn Gaines and wounded her 5-year-old son will not face any charges, a lawyer for the family said.

    The family's attorney, J. Wyndal Gordon, told the Daily News on Tuesday that he doesn't foresee any criminal charges in the Aug. 1 shooting at Gaines’ Randallstown, Md., apartment. Gordon said he will meet Wednesday with Baltimore County State's Attorney Scott Shellenberger to discuss the case.

    "'Basically, 'We investigated ourselves, and we found that we didn't do anything wrong,'" Gordon said. "That's what I expect them to say."

    Continued here:
  30. The Wrong Guy Member

    Baltimore Police officer Wesley Cagle sentenced to 12 years in shooting of unarmed suspect | Baltimore Sun

    Baltimore Police officer Wesley Cagle, was sentenced in the shooting of an unarmed man in December 2014. The judge sentenced Cagle to 12 years for the assault charge and 5 years for the handgun charge.
  31. The Wrong Guy Member

    Baltimore, Justice Department reach consent decree agreement on police reform | Baltimore Sun


    The city of Baltimore and the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday signed an historic agreement that, if approved in federal court, will mandate a range of costly police reforms in coming years, from how officers stop residents on the street to how they are trained, supervised and disciplined.

    Mayor Catherine Pugh called Thursday a "great day" in Baltimore as she announced the 227-page consent decree agreement at City Hall alongside Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and other officials.

    "For me, this was not about cost. This was about fairness and understanding," Pugh said. She said the focus of the reform would be "training, training, training, training."

    Lynch said she is not under any "illusions that change is easy," but called the deal "robust" and "comprehensive." She said she was confident the reforms would make a difference in the lives of Baltimore residents and thanked Baltimore officials for cooperating with her agency.

    Continued at

    Department of Justice consent decree requires training, oversight in sexual assault investigations by Baltimore police | Baltimore Sun


    Baltimore police will be required to improve oversight of sexual assault investigations and give detectives regular training under the consent decree between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice.

    The agreement released Thursday says the requirements are meant to increase victims' trust in police, combat gender bias by police, and ensure that detectives thoroughly investigate complaints of sexual assault.

    The federal investigation that led to the consent decree found the city police department "seriously and systematically under-investigates reports of sexual assault." It said police made little effort to corroborate victims' accounts.

    Under the consent decree, before an officer labels an assault report as "unfounded," a supervisor will have to determine whether the complaint was properly investigated.

    The department must develop a system that automatically alerts supervisors to review open sexual assault investigations. The alerts will be triggered within 48 hours of a report being taken, as well as when a victim has not been interviewed within a week, and when a case has been open, without any investigative activity, for more than six months.

    Police will be required to take victims for a forensic medical exam if the victim wants one, and to allow an advocate to accompany the victim during an interview unless it compromises the investigation.

    The department also will have to regularly train detectives in the sex offense, family crimes and child-abuse units about responding to sexual assault.

    Detectives will receive guidance on minimizing further trauma to victims, working with vulnerable populations such as homeless people and sex workers, and how to "postpone judgment regarding the validity of a case until a thorough investigation is completed."

    In addition, police will have to track and share data with an eye toward better identifying serial offenders.

    The agreement allows the city's Sexual Assault Response Team — made up of police, advocates and prosecutors — to continue to review cases.

  32. The Wrong Guy Member

    Freddie Gray case: Judge allows malicious prosecution lawsuit against Mosby to proceed | Baltimore Sun


    A federal judge is allowing key parts of a lawsuit against Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, brought by five of the six police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, to move forward.

    U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled that claims including malicious prosecution, defamation, and invasion of privacy can move forward against Mosby and Assistant Sheriff Samuel Cogen, who wrote the statement of probable cause.

    Mosby's attorneys had said she has absolute prosecutorial immunity from actions taken as a state's attorney. But Garbis noted that her office has said it conducted an independent investigation.

    "Plaintiffs' malicious prosecution claims relate to her actions when functioning as an investigator and not as a prosecutor," Garbis wrote.

    Other counts, such as false arrest, false imprisonment and abuse of process, were dismissed, as Garbis had signaled he would do at an October hearing. All claims against the state were also dismissed.

    The Maryland attorney general's office, which is representing Mosby, declined to comment on the 65-page ruling, saying officials needed time to review it.

    Continued at
  33. The Wrong Guy Member

    Five Baltimore officers from Freddie Gray case face internal discipline; three could be fired | Baltimore Sun


    Five Baltimore police officers involved in the 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray have been charged with violating department rules, with three of them facing termination, The Baltimore Sun has learned.

    The three who face firing are Officer Caesar Goodson, who was driving the van where an autopsy determined Gray suffered fatal injuries; and supervisors Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, according to sources with knowledge of the case.

    Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, who made the initial arrest of Gray, face five days suspension without pay.

    Meanwhile, Officer William Porter, who was criminally charged with manslaughter, is not facing any internal discipline.

    The internal charges come after investigators from the Montgomery and Howard county police departments finished their review of the case earlier this month. The Baltimore Police Department asked them to handle the investigation to avoid a conflict of interest.

    Continued at

    Federal grand jury indicts Baltimore police officers on additional robbery charges | Baltimore Sun


    A federal racketeering case against officers in an elite unit of the Baltimore Police Department deepened Thursday with a new indictment alleging three of them robbed civilians of more than $280,000 over five years.

    The three veteran officers from the Gun Trace Task Force also plotted to sell drugs they confiscated during arrests and forged reports to cover their tracks, federal prosecutors said.

    A grand jury indictment was unsealed Thursday bringing additional robbery charges against Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, 37; Detective Daniel Hersl, 48; and Detective Marcus Taylor, 30.

    Jenkins is due in court Friday and will plead not guilty, his attorney Steven Levin said. Attorneys for Hersl and Taylor did not return messages Thursday.


    The federal investigation began more than a year ago into members of the Gun Trace Task Force, a plainclothes unit deployed to interrupt Baltimore's illegal gun trade.

    In February, seven officers in the task force – the entirety of the unit— were indicted on federal racketeering charges.

    Jenkins, Hersl, Taylor and four other detectives were accused of extorting citizens, falsifying reports and collecting fraudulent overtime payments — all while federal investigators were inspecting Baltimore police for what they concluded were widespread civil rights violations.

    Six officers initially pleaded not guilty.


    The latest indictment details a pattern of robbery, extortion and overtime fraud between 2011 and 2016. Prosecutors said the three officers routinely robbed drug dealers and shared the cash, even after Jenkins was tipped off that federal agents were investigating the unit.

    In one instance, Jenkins robbed a stripper in Baltimore County, prosecutors said. In another, Jenkins and Taylor are alleged to have taken $400 from a man handcuffed in the back seat of a police car.

    The three officers also stole cash and drugs by detaining people, making traffic stops and swearing out false search warrants, prosecutors said. They are alleged to have taken the house keys of detainees and entered their homes.

    The officers, meanwhile, committed "systemic" overtime fraud, according to the latest indictment. Jenkins filed for overtime while on vacation with his family in Myrtle Beach, S.C., prosecutors said. Taylor is accused of filing for overtime while on vacation in New York City and the Dominican Republic.

    According to the indictment, a detective in the unit was recorded saying, "easy money" and "one hour can be eight hours," when referring to an alleged scheme in which Jenkins would sign overtime slips claiming an officer worked eight hours when he only worked one.

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  34. The Wrong Guy Member

    Baltimore police van driver Caesar Goodson not guilty on all 21 charges in Freddie Gray case

    By Kevin Rector, Baltimore Sun


    Goodson was acquitted last year of second-degree depraved-heart murder and other criminal charges related to Gray’s death. The panel’s decision to clear Goodson of the charges is final.

    Many of the charges related to Goodson’s failure to ensure Gray’s safety in the back of his police van or seek medical attention for Gray after he’d asked for it. Gray, 25, who had been handcuffed and placed in leg shackles but not restrained in a seat belt, was found unconscious and suffering from severe spinal cord injuries in the back of the van, and died a week later.

    Goodson also faced charges that he made false statements to detectives from Montgomery and Howard counties who conducted an outside investigation into Gray’s death on behalf of the city and the Police Department, and that he failed to properly document his actions on the day of Gray’s arrest.

    Goodson is the first officer to face a trial board in the case.

    Six officers were charged criminally in the Gray case; none was convicted. Goodson, Lt. Brian Rice and Officer Edward Nero were all acquitted at bench trials, and Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby then dropped all remaining charges against the other three officers.

    Five of those officers were subsequently charged administratively in the case. Two — Nero and Officer Garrett Miller — have accepted “minor” discipline in the case, and are back at work with the department, according to a police union attorney. Under Maryland law, punishments officers receive are kept private.

    Two others — Rice and Sgt. Alicia White — are fighting the charges against them.

    Rice’s administrative trial is scheduled to begin Nov. 13. White’s is scheduled to begin Dec. 5.

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  35. The Wrong Guy Member

    Baltimore homicide detective in 'grave condition' after being shot in the head

    Baltimore Sun, November 15, 2017

    Update: Detective Sean Suiter, 43, has died from a single gunshot wound, police said.

    Police commissioner: Slain Baltimore detective was to testify in case of indicted officers

    Baltimore Sun, November 22, 2017


    Slain Baltimore homicide Detective Sean Suiter was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury in the case against a squad of indicted officers on the day after he was shot, Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said Wednesday evening.

    The revelation brings together two cases that have sent shock waves through the Police Department and the city as a whole: the federal prosecutions of eight members of the department’s elite gun task force, who are accused of shaking down citizens and conspiring with drug dealers, and the killing of Suiter last week in West Baltimore, the first of an on-duty officer by a suspect in 10 years.

    Davis said Wednesday that federal authorities have told him “in no uncertain terms” that Suiter was not a target of their investigation into the Gun Trace Task Force. He said authorities have no reason to believe Suiter’s killing was connected to his pending testimony.

    “The BPD and FBI do not possess any information that this incident ... is part of any conspiracy,” Davis said. He said evidence shows the shooting occurred spontaneously, as Suiter investigated a suspicious person in the Harlem Park neighborhood.

    “There is no information that has been communicated to me that Detective Suiter was anything other than a stellar detective, great friend, loving husband and dedicated father,” he said.

    Davis also said that Suiter is believed to have been killed with his own service weapon, which was fired at close range, and that there was evidence of a struggle before the shooting.

    Police have not identified a suspect or made arrests in Suiter’s shooting Nov. 15. Investigators locked the neighborhood down for several days after the shooting to gather evidence and interview potential witnesses. Authorities are offering a reward of $215,000 for information leading to an arrest.

    Police say Suiter and a partner were conducting a follow-up investigation on a triple homicide in the 900 block of Bennett Place when he saw someone acting suspiciously in a vacant lot and approached. The 43-year-old detective, a married father of five, was shot once in the head. He died the next day.

    Davis described for the first time surveillance video of the scene. The footage shows Suiter’s partner seeking cover across the street. Davis backed his actions.

    “Upon the sound of gunfire, Detective Suiter’s partner sought cover across the street,” Davis said, reading from a prepared statement. “He immediately called 911. We know this, because it is captured on private surveillance video that we have recovered.”

    Mayor Catherine Pugh was briefed on the case Wednesday and said she asked Davis to disclose the information to the public, due to theories swirling in the community.

    The Gun Trace Task Force was entrusted with executing a key element of Davis’ strategy against the city’s historic surge in killing: getting illegal guns out of the hands of the trigger pullers who are driving the violence.

    But a federal grand jury indicted eight task force members earlier this year on charges of racketeering and other violations, and authorities are continuing to investigate allegations related to the squad.

    Four officers have pleaded guilty, and at least two of them are cooperating with authorities.

    The other four members have pleaded not guilty. They are scheduled for trial in January.

    Davis said he was told by federal prosecutors that Suiter was to testify in the case of the indicted officers in relation to an incident from several years ago. It was not clear whether his testimony would be helpful or harmful to the officers.

    Among the officers to stand trial is Sgt. Wayne Jenkins, the supervisor of the task force.

    Jenkins and Suiter were involved in a high-speed chase in 2010 in which the elderly father of a Baltimore police officer was killed. Two men were charged in the case. Umar Burley and Brent Matthews were both convicted of heroin possession charges and sentenced to federal prison.

    Court records show that the two assistant U.S. attorneys who are prosecuting the Gun Trace Task Force entered their appearances in closed high-speed chase case in late August, and there have been multiple sealed filings since then.

    The U.S. attorney’s office in Maryland declined to comment Wednesday night.

    State court records show that Suiter made dozens of arrests with Detective Maurice Ward, one of the officers who has pleaded guilty in the Gun Trace Task Force case, between 2007 and 2009. He made two arrests in 2008 with Detective Momodu Gondo, and three arrests in 2010 with Jenkins.

    A federal grand jury this month indicted former Baltimore police Officer Eric Troy Snell, now a Philadelphia police officer, in an alleged conspiracy with some members of Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force to sell drugs and split proceeds.

    In one allegation, federal prosecutors accuse Jenkins and Detecetive Jemell Rayam of initiating a high-speed chase in 2016 in which driver of the vehicle threw more than 9 ounces of cocaine out of the window of his vehicle before crashing near Mondawmin Mall.

    Prosecutors say the officers retrieved the cocaine. They say Jenkins told Rayam to sell most of it and give Jenkins proceeds of the sale, and Rayam agreed to do it.

    Rayam has pleaded guilty to racketeering in his own indictment and is cooperating with authorities.

    Continued at
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  36. The Wrong Guy Member

    Activist DeRay Mckesson sues Fox News, media personality Jeanine Pirro for defamation | Baltimore Sun


    Civil rights activist DeRay Mckesson has sued Fox News and media personality Jeanine Pirro, alleging she defamed him while discussing a lawsuit brought against the Black Lives Matter movement.

    Mckesson alleges that Pirro made “false and defamatory statements” claiming he directed other protesters to commit violence that resulted in a police officer getting struck in the face with a rock, according to a lawsuit filed in New York on Tuesday.

    “Pirro’s statements are untrue and further a narrative that I, and other activists, engage in violent protest,” Mckesson said in message to The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday.


    “I take statements that portray untrue statements about me seriously,” he said. Mckesson said he’s already received death threats, including one on Twitter in 2015 during a screening of “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” documentary at the Charles Theatre. The theater was evacuated, and Baltimore police were called to investigate.

    The complaint says the statements made by Pirro “are false, and were either known to be false by Defendant Pirro or were made with reckless disregard for whether they were true.” The complaint said the statements have damaged Mckesson’s reputation and endangered his safety, and requests an unspecified amount in damages. It also notes the large audience reach that Fox’s morning show “Fox & Friends” has.

    “Given the exposure made to an audience of 1.7 million people on the nature of DeRay’s work, the damage to his reputation is extremely significant,” said Mckesson’s attorney Matthew D. Melewski in an interview.

    More at
  37. The Wrong Guy Member

    Baltimore police detective died by suicide, report says | CNN

    A Baltimore police detective who officials initially said was fatally shot in a strugglewith a suspectactually took hisown life with his service weapon, according to an independent report released Tuesday.

    Sean Suiter, 43, was shot in the head with his own gun November 15 in a vacant lot in West Baltimore, police said.

    The fatal shooting occurred the day before Suiter, a homicide detective, was scheduled to testify before a federal grand jury in a police corruption case involving fellow officers. Then-Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said at the time that a brief call Suiter made on his police radio occurred during a struggle with a killer.

    Suiter's death led to a manhunt, 12 search warrants, 123 interviews and a reward of more than $200,000 for the capture of the suspected gunman.

    By early 2018, Baltimore police had exhausted all leads, and so commissioned an independent review of the homicide investigation, the circumstances surrounding the shooting and lessons from that day, according to the report.

    The Independent Review Board said the lack of defensive wounds on Suiter's knuckles, hands or arms, along with the presence of shell casings from Suiter's Glock service weapon at the scene and the officer's DNA inside the barrel of the gun and on its surface helped the board reach the conclusion that Suiter took his own life.

    Suiter was right-handed, and the bullet entered from the right side of his head, the report said. Blood spatter was found inside his right sleeve cuff, it said.

    "It is most implausible that anyone other than Detective Suiter could have fired the fatal shot with his weapon," the report said.

    Baltimore residents "should not fear that a 'cop killer' is on the loose," the report said.

    The report also criticized the statements of Davis, who initially said that Suiter approached a man "acting suspiciously" and then was killed. There was no evidence to support that conclusion, the report said.

    "The commissioner repeatedly shared unverified and ultimately inaccurate information with the public, despite the emergence of forensic and other evidence suggesting that Suiter took his own life," it said.

    Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh ousted Davis in January, saying the city wasn't reducing violence fast enough.

    Continued at

    Panel report: Baltimore Police Detective Suiter had 'every incentive' to make suicide appear to be murder | Baltimore Sun


    Suiter was given a hero’s funeral and praised for his work as an officer. But the board’s report describes him as under pressure as the Gun Trace Task Force corruption case grew, with claims being made about his involvement in possible misconduct. The report says Suiter asked an FBI agent whether he was going to lose his job, and says he was in communication with a lawyer about his looming testimony before a grand jury investigating city police corruption.

    The report also blasts former Police Commissioner Kevin Davis for releasing too much information to the public and making misleading comments.


    Suiter was shot one day before he was set to appear before a federal grand jury investigating the Gun Trace Task Force corruption case. He was being asked to offer testimony about a 2011 incident in which drugs were planted on a man who fled police and got into a fatal crash. The report said Suiter was extended limited immunity to discuss the 2011 case.

    Later, it would emerge at the Gun Trace Task Force trial that convicted Detective Momodu Gondo told the government that he had robbed citizens along with Suiter.

    The board said that an analysis of Suiter’s cellphone showed he had deleted Gondo and another convicted officer, Maurice Ward, from his phone contacts, and that “75 text messages and 313 call log entries were also deleted.”

    “If Gondo and others were providing truthful information to federal law enforcement, Detective Suiter faced a difficult choice: He could testify truthfully and be protected by federal immunity,” the report says. “In acknowledging personal illegal conduct while with the agency, however, he would likely end his career. His admissions would be a firing offense, and the specter of state criminal prosecution might also exist.

    “Alternatively, Suiter could have denied wrongful conduct before the grand jury. That might subject him to federal charges, however, if the grand jury and prosecutors concluded that Suiter was not truthful.

    Davis had said federal authorities told him Suiter was not a target of the Gun Trace Task Force investigation. But the review board’s report claims that then-Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen Schenning had advised Davis that cooperating officers had implicated Suiter in wrongdoing, and that “federal law enforcement did not have enough information to determine whether Suiter had been involved in criminal activity.”

    Davis did not relay that information to homicide detectives, the report says. “As a result, communication protocols were established so that the FBI could share information directly with the homicide detectives working the case,” the report said.

    Notably, police investigators did not attempt to search Suiter’s home computer for any clues that he might have been researching taking his own life or was involved with misconduct, the board said.

    Davis, who was at the helm of the department when Suiter was shot, but was fired in January, came out against the board’s finding of suicide Monday, saying the board was being misled by forces within the Baltimore Police Department that wanted the unsolved case cleared.

    More at

    Here are the major takeaways from panel report on Baltimore Police Detective Suiter's death | Baltimore Sun

    A timeline of the investigation into the death of Baltimore homicide Detective Sean Suiter | Baltimore Sun
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  38. The Wrong Guy Member

    Baltimore Cops Carried Toy Guns to Plant on People They Shot, Trial Reveals

    One officer involved in the city's massive corruption scandal said officers kept the replicas "in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them."

    By Drew Schwartz, VICE


    Last week, the beginning of an explosive corruption trial involving eight members of Baltimore's elite Gun Trace Task Force revealed that a handful of Baltimore cops allegedly kept fake guns in their patrol cars to plant on innocent people—a failsafe they could use if they happened to shoot an unarmed suspect, the Baltimore Sun reports.

    Detective Maurice Ward, who's already pleaded guilty to corruption charges, testified that he and his partners were told to carry the replicas and BB guns "in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them." The directive allegedly came from the team's sergeant, Wayne Jenkins, the Washington Post reports. Though Ward didn't say whether or not the tactic was ever used, Detective Marcus Taylor—another cop swept up in the scandal—was carrying a fake gun almost identical to his service weapon when he was arrested last year, according to the Sun.

    The revelation is just one of many egregious abuses that have come out of the sprawling trial that the Sun has called "Baltimore’s biggest police corruption scandal in memory." Prosecutors say the squad, which was tasked with getting illegal guns off the streets, abused its power by robbing suspects and innocent people, raiding homes without warrants, and selling confiscated drugs, among other crimes.

    But the BB gun testimony is particularly disturbing in light of 12-year-old Tamir Rice's death in 2014, the 13-year-old in Baltimore who was shot twice by cops in 2016 after he allegedly sprinted from them with a replica gun in his hand, and the 86 people fatally shot by police in 2015 and 2016 who were spotted carrying toy guns.

    Six of the eight task force members charged in the corruption scandal have pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, but Taylor and Detective Daniel Hersl have pleaded not guilty. They're currently on trial while several of their former partners testify against them.

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  39. The Wrong Guy Member

    The Murder Conviction Of A Man In A BuzzFeed News/Trace Investigation Has Been Overturned

    Devon Little’s case was the subject of an investigation into how police departments fail to solve shooting cases, leaving perpetrators free to strike again.

    By Sarah Ryley, Investigative Reporter, The Trace, February 26, 2019


    A Maryland court this week reversed the murder conviction of a Baltimore man whose case was featured in an investigation by the Trace and BuzzFeed News that exposed how detectives in police departments across the country fail to adequately investigate shootings because of staffing constraints.

    The Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Feb. 25 issued a decision throwing out the 2017 murder conviction of Devon Little, a 28-year-old from West Baltimore. Two of the witnesses in the case said they had seen Little in two different places immediately after the shooting, but the trial judge allowed a detective to explain away this inconsistency. The appellate court determined that the judge had erred in allowing such testimony, and found it may have affected the outcome of the case.

    The Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office has the option to continue pursuing the case, either by appealing the court’s ruling, or by requesting a new trial. “We are assessing this decision to determine the most appropriate next steps,” spokesperson Melba Saunders said.

    The Trace and BuzzFeed News' investigation, published last month, detailed how Little was shot on the streets of Baltimore on two separate occasions over 15 months, and then was eventually accused and convicted of murdering another man, Levon Stokes. The story reported that police had no physical evidence implicating Little in the murder, and that the detective had failed to analyze cellphone records that might have revealed Little’s location at the time of the murder or interview a key witness to the crime.

    The shootings were among a string of nine shootings that took place in Baltimore from 2015 through 2017, all linked by a common victim or suspect, that the Trace and BuzzFeed News investigation examined to show how a failure to make arrests in these crimes leaves the perpetrators free to shoot again.

    Crippled by a crime surge, the Baltimore Police Department managed to close only two of the nine cases. But even those were questionable. The first closure was thrown out and the case reopened after the Trace and BuzzFeed News asked questions about the evidence. Police had had leads on three suspects, but abruptly stopped working the case after two weeks, then pinned the crime on a dead man.

    The other closed case was the murder for which Little was convicted. He had been sentenced to life in prison. He had no prior violent crime charges on his record.

    The Trace and BuzzFeed News found that police had no physical evidence implicating Little in the murder, had failed to analyze cellphone records that might have revealed his location at the time of the murder, and that the detective had failed to interview a key eyewitness.

    “That two of the three witnesses claimed to have seen [Little] in two different places shortly after the shooting was an apparent inconsistency in their testimony,” Justice Irma S. Raker wrote in the decision, saying that the trial court had erred allowing the detective to explain away the flaw “with the imprimatur of an experienced police detective,” despite having no direct knowledge of the chain of events, potentially swayed the jury. Raker also noted that no physical evidence linked Little to the murder, and that the third witness only saw a profile of the shooter from a distance.

    Continued at

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