Vargas: Evidence shows there was no evidence in Freddie Gray case

By Joe Vargas

The Maryland State Attorney’s office made the right decision Wednesday when it announced it would drop the remaining charges against the Baltimore police officers involved in the Freddie Gray case.

It was the right decision given the overwhelming evidence that there was no evidence of criminal conduct.

In a press conference, State Attorney Marilyn Mosby blamed the police agencies for not providing her with a thorough investigation.

Really?

I’ve stated in a previous column the unprecedented rush to prosecute just one day after the police investigation was completed violated every principle of the investigative review process I’ve ever heard of.

A good prosecutor will receive the case and then pick it apart, filling in missing pieces, re-interviewing witnesses, examining forensic evidence and then, after discussion with staff, make decisions on what charges to file, if any, based on the evidence.

I am certain the advice of veteran prosecutors on Ms. Mosby’s staff was ignored during these discussions.

Ms. Mosby’s actions in this case were criticized by many, including legal scholar Alan Dershowitz, as a prosecution without evidence or cause.

Judge Barry Williams cited in his findings over and over again there was no evidence of a crime in any of the cases presented by the prosecutors.

Ms. Mosby’s decision to prosecute the officers was politically motivated to placate protestors in the city of Baltimore.  In her mind, it was okay to sacrifice the Baltimore police officers to satisfy the court of public opinion.

Mr. Gray’s death was a tragedy. No police department is ever helped whenever someone dies while in custody. Once a person is in custody it is the job of the police to keep them healthy and free from harm. That can be challenging for many reasons.

However, not properly placing Mr. Gray in a seat belt does not rise to the level of criminal conduct without evidence of some sort of malice.

The allegation that Mr. Gray was given a “rough ride” was only conjuncture.

The City of Baltimore quickly admitted civilly liability to the point of $6.4 million – an amount many find overreaching.

Ms. Mosby, as the top law enforcement officer in the State of Maryland, had a responsibility to seek justice. Her actions in this case were described by former state attorney Page Croyder as  incompetent and overreaching.

Prosecuting to pander to protestors is unethical.

The officers involved have sought some civil recourse, although their chances of winning are slim. Their lives and careers will be forever damaged.

The public deserved a thorough, unbiased and complete review of the facts and evidence surrounding the arrest and death of Gray.

Thanks to Ms. Mosby’s knee jerk reaction, that didn’t happen.

Joe is a retired Anaheim Police Department captain. You can reach him at jvargas@behindthebadgeoc.com.