Six Baltimore police officers are facing charges in connection to the death of Freddie Gray. He was the man whose recent death sparked major protests and riots throughout the city. But what will be their fate in a court of law? Time will tell.
The young state prosecutor sounded supremely confident, as she dropped the bombshell. Freddie gray’s death, Marilyn Mosby declared, was a homicide.
“We have probable cause to file criminal charges” Mosby stated.
But now the work of trying to get convictions begins, and Mosby’s cases against the six officers are by no means slam dunks.
Former Baltimore County Prosecutor Andrew Alperstein said, “These charges are very tricky to get convictions of, especially in this set of facts.”
Alperstein stated that the second-degree ‘depraved heart’ murder charge against officer Caesar Goodson, who drove the van Gray suffered his spinal cord injuries in, will be especially difficult to prove.
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“Typically it’s described in law schools across the country as somebody who would throw a flowerpot out a 20th story window on a crowded downtown street. A reasonable person should know that that’s going to cause a potential risk to injure somebody or kill them” Alperstein said.
But he says proving Goodson knew beforehand that he was creating a specific risk of death for Freddie Gray– will be tough. Analysts say many brutality cases against police are difficult to win.
In 1992, four L.A. police officers were acquitted of assault in the Rodney King case, even though they’d been videotaped beating him.
Four New York City officers were acquitted of second-degree murder in the 1999 death of Amadou Diallo. They’d shot him more than 40 times, mistakenly thinking he had a gun.
Legal experts say jurors are often sympathetic to police officers because of the dangerous nature of their work. But the Baltimore officers’ lawyers know their city is different.
Alperstein said, “I’m sure that’s coming, that they’ll try to get a change of venue in the case, because juries tend to be anti-police to some extent in Baltimore.”
Analysts say inconsistencies in witness statements, lack of video in the police van, are big hurdles for prosecutors in the gray case.
What’s their strong suit against the officers?
Former Baltimore City Asst. State’s Attorney Jeremy Eldridge said, “The office of the state’s attorney is likely going to emphasize the innumerable requests that Mr. Gray made seeking medical treatment. It seems as though that they are really banking on the idea that Mr. Gray petitioned for help and was denied.”
Much will depend on the woman bringing this case. Marilyn Mosby’s been the chief prosecutor in Baltimore for only four months.
Jeremy Eldridge, who worked with her, says she only had a few years experience as a trial prosecutor.
Eldridge said, “She did have some felony experience. But she didn’t handle any homicides, any wiretapping cases, or any attempted murders. So the question then becomes: can a state’s attorney who did not have that experience handle a case of this magnitude?”
Could Mosby’s office get one or more officers to flip – and testify against others? The local attorneys we spoke to say it’s possible- and would increase the chances of convictions. But so far, they believe it’s unlikely. The police have been supportive of each other, they have a long-standing code of honor, and so far, their lawyers have been working together.Copyright 2015 CNN