Baltimore prosecutors continued Thursday to accuse police of meddling into their investigation of Freddie Gray’s death and stood by their theory of the case one day after State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced the dismissal of charges against the three remaining officers awaiting trial.
Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow and Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe said prosecutors pieced together their theory of the case from the facts and that any additional time before filing charges would not have changed anything.
Mosby announced the charges May 1, less than a month after Gray’s death.
“Anybody who watched us in the courtroom knows that we believed in these cases,” Schatzow said. Schatzow pointed out all but one charge survived a defense motion for judgment of acquittal, meaning Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams thought it was appropriate to send the case to the finder of fact in each trial. Mosby made a similar point Wednesday.
Bledsoe said prosecutors began meeting with the Baltimore Police Department Force Investigation Team on April 13, the day after Gray sustained his injuries. In the following days, investigators from the state’s attorney’s office were out speaking to witnesses and taking photos and video of key scenes while others were reviewing the police findings. The five officers who gave statements had done so by April 17.
Both attorneys also referenced actions by police that “sabotaged” the cases, from failing to execute search warrants for the officers’ personal phones to the lead detective acting without notifying prosecutors. When asked why certain officers allegedly did these things, Schatzow and Bledsoe referred the questions to the police.
The department’s press office issued a statement later Thursday declining to comment beyond Commissioner Kevin Davis’ statement Wednesday reiterating the need for police and prosecutors to work together.
“We will not engage in public banter with our criminal justice system partners, nor will we entertain media requests that seek responses to remarks made by persons now offering retrospective opinions,” the statement read.
At a press conference Wednesday after the charges were dropped, Mosby praised her prosecutors for their work on the case and accused “individual” police officers of trying to hinder the case.
“The decision to prosecute six police officers was not and has never been an indictment of the entire Baltimore Police Department,” she said, thanking Davis for his assistance. “For those that believe I am anti-police, that is simply not the case. I’m anti-police brutality.”
Schatzow also avoided directly accusing of lying the officers who did take the stand, either as state or defense witnesses, but said giving “repeatedly inconsistent” testimony opened them up to impeachment.
“We can’t know what happened to Freddie Gray unless they people involved tell us what happened to Freddie Gray,” Schatzow said, adding that the legal system is often not the best way to answer such broad questions.
Schatzow repeatedly asserted that the office was prepared to go forward with the prosecution of Officer Garrett Miller, scheduled to begin this week. Prosecutors were confident they could have survived Wednesday’s scheduled Kastigar hearing, he added, which would have required a new team of prosecutors to prove they were not influenced by Miller’s previous testimony made with immunity.
Schatzow said Maryland does not have a law prohibiting “tainted” prosecutors from communicating with a “clean team” of prosecutors or even prosecuting the defendants themselves but said the office took a conservative approach to the issue, insulating the new prosecutors with an additional team to filter evidence before it was turned over.
Schatzow said Maryland does not have a law prohibiting “tainted” prosecutors from communicating with a clean team of prosecutors or even prosecuting the defendants themselves but said the office took a conservative approach to the issue and insulated the new prosecutors with an additional team to filter evidence before it was turned over.