Criminal Justice | WYPR

Criminal Justice

FOP warned police about problems four years ago

Aug 26, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

A report issued four years ago by the Baltimore police union expressed the same concerns about zero-tolerance enforcement and training issues as the caustic Justice Department report on the Baltimore Police Department two weeks ago.

In fact, the federal report cited several times a “Blueprint for Improved Policing” published by the city Fraternal Order of Police in 2012.

The chief spokesman for Baltimore police insists that a trial program in which a manned plane with cameras flies over the city and feeds information to law enforcement was not a secret.

Arash Azizzada

The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus and the NAACP announced a new legislative agenda last week, following the release of a U.S. Department of Justice report chronicling a system of discrimination in the Baltimore Police Department. Changing police recruitment practices was on the list.

“We will mandate and oversee the recruitment of officers by the Baltimore Police Department and require Baltimore residents, particularly African Americans and women, to be recruited and hired to fill the more than 3,000 officer positions comprising the agency,” state Del. Jill Carter, a Democrat who represents northwest Baltimore, said at the Black Caucus’ press conference.

But even before the report’s release, the Baltimore Police had begun building efforts to recruit from communities that haven’t historically attracted many applicants.

    

Fraser Smith and Andy Green, editorial page editor of the Baltimore Sun, take up former Mayor/Governor Martin O'Malley's defense of "broken windows" policing that was so sharply criticized in the recent Department of Justice report on the Baltimore police department.

The Department of Justice’s 163 page report describes officers and sergeants acting as if they had a blank check to do whatever they wanted in the inner city neighborhoods; using unreasonable force against people who represented little or no threat, making warrantless arrests without probable cause, conducting illegal strip searches, sometimes in public.

Soon the DOJ, the city, the police department, and community leaders will get to work on the court-ordered mandatory consent decree that’s should be finalized November 1.

Rachel Baye

Representatives of Maryland’s Legislative Black Caucus and the NAACP announced Friday a set of policy proposals in response to the scathing Justice Department report on discriminatory practices by the Baltimore Police Department.

Among the legislators’ proposals are hiring practices that bring in more African American and women city residents, protections for police whistle-blowers and opportunities for civilians to review police actions.

Mayor: DOJ findings “challenging” to hear

Aug 10, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Editor's note: The full DOJ report is posted at the bottom of this story.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday she was committed to implementing police reforms after the U.S. Justice Department issued a scathing report on the Baltimore Police Department.

The mayor said “the findings are challenging to hear” but that her administration did not wait around for the Justice Department to issue its 163-page report.

“The city has taken first steps in a long path to reform and we’ve begun to see real benefits,” she said.

P. Kenneth Burns

Prosecutors defended Thursday their investigation and strategy in the case of Freddie Gray, who died from injuries suffered in police custody. 

Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow said in a news conference they believed in the case and were prepared to continue with the trials.  But State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby determined that they had to be realistic.

“Mrs. Mosby correctly determined that we had to face the reality [that] defendants would select judge trials,” he said.  “And that this judge made determinations and that he had seen the significant portions of the evidence that he was going to see.”

Schatzow added he “obviously” disagrees with Williams’ view and that “there should have been guilty verdicts.”

BPD's new use of force policy: What's changed?

Jul 28, 2016
Baltimore Sun

    

In her news conference Wednesday, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby blamed the legal system for her inability to convict any of the six police officers charged in the Freddie Gray case.

"Without real substantive reforms to the current criminal justice system, we could try this case 100 times and cases just like it, and we would still end up with the same result," she said.

The trials of six officers in the Freddie Gray case came to an end Wednesday morning when prosecutors dropped charges against the remaining officers facing trial; Officers Garrett Miller and William Porter along with Sgt. Alicia White.

Prosecutors failed to win a conviction in the case. Officers Edward Nero, Caesar Goodson and Lt. Brian Rice were acquitted in May, June and July, respectively.

Porter’s original trial ended in a deadlocked jury last December.

Miller trial will have some differences

Jul 26, 2016
Baltimore Police

Pre-trial motions in the trial of Officer Garrett Miller will be heard Wednesday at Courthouse East.

Miller, one of six officers charged in last year’s death of Freddie Gray, will be the fifth officer brought to trial in the case.

This trial will have some differences from the previous four.

Mary Rose Madden

Camden County Officer Tyrrell Bagby is headed to his usual beat, but on the way he sees a man stumbling, about to walk off the curb and into a busy intersection near City Hall.  Officer Bagby leans out the window and tells the man the train is coming and that he could be hurt “sitting in the middle of the street.”

A tale of two Ryans

Jul 22, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

As you’d expect, Lt. Gene Ryan was a satisfied man Monday when Lt. Brian Rice was acquitted of all charges in Freddie Gray’s death.

Ryan, the head of Baltimore’s police union, has been among the most vocal critics of the charges filed against six police officers in the case and of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.  And some of that criticism has been inflammatory.

Another acquittal. Now what?

Jul 20, 2016

    

Fraser Smith and Kenneth Burns, of the WYPR news team, take up the latest developments in the Freddie Gray case and what it may mean for future prosecutions.

Third officer in Freddie Gray case acquitted

Jul 18, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Lt. Brian Rice, the highest ranking officer among the six charged in last year’s death of Freddie Gray, was acquitted Monday of all the charges against him by Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams.

Rice was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray.  Gray suffered a severe spinal injury in the back of a police van.  He died a week later.

Rice Trial: Williams to render verdict Monday

Jul 17, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams is expected to announce his verdict in the trial of Lt. Brian Rice Monday morning.

Rice is the highest ranking officer charged in last year’s death of Freddie Gray.  He is charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

Gray died from a spinal injury suffered in the back of a police van.

Rice could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the top count; the manslaughter charge.

Prosecutors say Rice should have been a leader

Jul 14, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

The fate of Lt. Brian Rice is now in the hands of Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams.

Williams heard closing arguments Thursday in the trial of Rice, the highest ranking officer in the Freddie Gray case. He is charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in Gray’s death last year.

Judge Williams said he will render his verdict at 10 a.m. Monday.

Rice Trial: Defense has a variety of closing options

Jul 13, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

In their closing arguments, prosecutors are expected to suggest Lt. Brian Rice, as senior officer, knew more than anyone the dangers of not seat belting Freddie Gray in the back of a police van last year.  Defense attorneys will say Rice was concerned about the safety of his fellow officers and Gray as a crowd at the arrest scene became hostile.

Those arguments are scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday.

Rice Trial: A feeling of déjà vu

Jul 13, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Prosecutors and defense lawyers in the trial of Lt. Brian Rice will spend  Wednesday preparing their closing arguments for Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams. They’re scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday.

Rice is charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office in last year’s death of Freddie Gray from a severe spinal injury suffered while being transported in the back of a police van.

This trial, the fourth of an officer charged in Gray’s death, feels like Groundhog Day: allegations similar to the previous trial, similar evidence, similar witnesses.

Rice Trial: Defense rests, closing arguments Thursday

Jul 12, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

The defense rested its case Tuesday in the trial of Lt. Brian Rice; the highest ranking officer among six charged in last year’s death of Freddie Gray.

Lawyers for Rice called four witnesses, including two medical experts that testified in the morning.

Prosecutor challenges rise during Rice trial

Jul 12, 2016
Baltimore Police

The dismissal of the second degree assault charge against Lt. Brian Rice is just another setback for prosecutors in the Freddie Gray case who have yet to secure a conviction through three trials.

Officer William Porter’s trial ended in a hung jury last December.  He is to be re-tried in September.  Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson were acquitted by Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams in May and June, respectively.

And prosecutors have been having a hard time proving Rice bears any responsibility for Gray’s April 2015 death from a severe spinal injury.  

In addition to Circuit Judge Barry Williams' dismissal of the assault charge, prosecutors dropped one count of misconduct in office stemming frmo Gray's initial detainment.

The remaining charges against Rice are involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and another misconduct in office count.

Rice Trial: State rests, assault dismissed

Jul 11, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams dismissed Monday the charge of second degree assault against Lt. Brian Rice.  He did so after the state rested its case.

Williams said while prosecutors have shown that Rice did not put Freddie Gray in a seatbelt, he was “not satisfied” that the state had shown evidence that Rice committed assault.

Baltimore Police

A friend of Freddie Gray, the black man who died from injuries suffered in police custody, testified that an officer on trial in the death told him to leave as Gray was being arrested.

P. Kenneth Burns

A neurosurgeon has testified at the trial of a Baltimore police officer facing criminal charges after the arrest and death of a young black man that the man suffered an incomplete spinal cord injury and could still move his head and talk.

Fraser Smith and Andy Green, of the Baltimore Sun's editorial board, discuss the fall-out from the results of the police trials in the Freddie Gray case.

State says Rice is responsible as supervisor

Jul 7, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

Prosecutors argued Thursday that Lt. Brian Rice, as shift commander, had ultimate responsibility for keeping Freddie Gray safe in the back of a police van the day of his arrest, but that he failed to do so by not securing Gray with a seatbelt.

Outside of that, much of what Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow told Circuit Judge Barry Williams in his opening statements in Rice’s trial was similar to what he said in the trials of Officers Caesar Goodson and Edward Nero.

Rice trial begins Thursday

Jul 5, 2016
Baltimore Police

The trial of Lt. Brian Rice, the highest ranking officer of the six charged in last year’s death of Freddie Gray, is to begin Thursday morning.  And it will be a bench trial.

Rice, who has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, waived his right to a jury trial during a hearing before Circuit Judge Barry Williams Tuesday.

What’s next for prosecutors in Freddie Gray case?

Jun 30, 2016

  Prosecutors will continue to seek a conviction in last year’s death of Freddie Gray when the trial of Lt. Brian Rice begins Tuesday with a motions hearing.

But after three trials, they have yet to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any of the officers tried so far were criminally responsible for Gray’s death.

The Baltimore Police Department has updated its use of force policy to mandate officers to immediately render aid if someone in custody complains of an injury a year after an arrestee suffered a critical spinal injury in a police van but was initially denied medical treatment.

Police launch text line for tips in Lor Scoota murder

Jun 27, 2016
P. Kenneth Burns

  Baltimore Police launched Monday two new digital methods for witnesses to send tips for their investigation into the murder of popular local rapper Tyriece Watson, also known as “Lor Scoota.”

Detectives are asking the public to text their tips, pictures, videos, Facebook Live and Periscope links to 443-902-4824. 

The public can also email files to homicidetips@baltimorepolice.org. People who report tips can remain anonymous.

“We’ll take it in Google Drive, we’ll take it in Dropbox; however you have it,” said police spokesman T.J. Smith.

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