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Baltimore cops charged in Freddie Gray death fight back

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State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby is seen at a May 1 press conference announcing the charges against six Baltimore City Police officers in the death of Freddie Gray.

A bombshell case against six Baltimore police officers stemming from the death of Freddie Gray became more contentious after the cops’ defense lawyers started poking holes in the prosecutor’s allegations.

Defense attorneys for the charged cops are using competing investigations — one done by the police department and a second ordered by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby— to try to get key components of the case either tossed or charges lessened, according to CNN.

The April 19 death of the 25-year-old Gray, who came out of a Baltimore police van unresponsive with a nearly severed neck after a 30 minute ride to jail one week before, led to murder charges for Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. and involuntary manslaughter or assault charges for five other cops.

Mosby’s press conference announcing the charges May 1 was met with joy by protesters and ended several days of violence and looting on Baltimore city streets. It also thrust Mosby, a newbie who has just four months on the job, into the national spotlight – and scrutiny.

Officer Caesar Goodson was the driver of the van that transported Freddie Gray, and he faces the most serious charges, including second-degree depraved heart murder.Baltimore Police Department/ZUMAPRESS.com

Officer Caesar Goodson was the driver of the van that transported Freddie Gray, and he faces the most serious charges, including second-degree depraved heart murder.

Sgt. Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.Baltimore Police Department

Sgt. Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Police Officer Garrett Miller, 26, is charged with second-degree assault intentional, second-degree assault negligent, two misconduct in office charges and false imprisonment.Baltimore Police Department

Police Officer Garrett Miller, 26, is charged with second-degree assault intentional, second-degree assault negligent, two misconduct in office charges and false imprisonment.

Police Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.Baltimore Police Department

Police Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Lt. Brian Rice, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, two second-degree assault charges, two misconduct in office charges and false imprisonment.Baltimore Police Department

Lt. Brian Rice, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, two second-degree assault charges, two misconduct in office charges and false imprisonment.

Officer Edward Nero., one of the Baltimore police officers who arrested Freddie Gray, wants the police department and prosecutor to produce the knife that was the reason for Gray's arrest, saying in court papers that it is an illegal weapon.AP

Officer Edward Nero., one of the Baltimore police officers who arrested Freddie Gray, wants the police department and prosecutor to produce the knife that was the reason for Gray’s arrest, saying in court papers that it is an illegal weapon.

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And the decision to charge came as a shock to Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, who said Mosby’s office gave him just a 10-minute heads up before she announced the charges to the world.

“If this case falls apart, then does Baltimore burn?” one unidentified official said to CNN.

At the heart of Mosby’s investigation was the contention that a knife found on Gray, first described as a switchblade, was actually a legal blade, meaning his April 12 arrest was illegal.

But Baltimore city police found the knife was illegal, per city codes, according to CNN. And attorneys for two of the charged cops have filed a motion in court for Mosby to produce the knife to show, one way or another, whether the knife fits the standards for legal possession.

The police investigation also found that the most serious charge possible against an officer would be manslaughter – not the murder charge Mosby levied, which requires intent.

Cops were reportedly told the medical examiner did not plan to declare the death a homicide, but Mosby said just the opposite at her press conference.

Freddie Gray is seen during his arrest April 12, which ultimately ended in his death a week later after he slipped into a coma.

Freddie Gray is seen during his arrest April 12, which ultimately ended in his death a week later after he slipped into a coma.

“The findings of our comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiner’s determination that Mr. Gray’s death was a homicide, has led us to believe that we have probable cause to file criminal charges,” she said that day.

That investigation was led by a former Baltimore cop, Avon Mackel, who was stripped of his command post in 2009 “for failing to follow through on a robbery investigation that two of his officers mishandled and did not report,” CNN reported.

Then, just months later, a drunken and reportedly armed Mackel was Tasered at his home by a SWAT team responding to an incident concerning the demoted and despondent cop.

He was not arrested in that incident, and Baltimore County police did confirm a SWAT team responded to assist during the incident, “which ended peacefully,” the department told CNN.

Critics say Mosby employed an investigator with an axe to grind.

The details of the descrepancies in the two investigations comes one day after Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced she had asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the city police department.

Mosby’s team defended its investigation and accused the defense of leaking information to try to destroy the case before it comes to court.

“While the evidence we have obtained through our independent investigation does substantiate the elements of the charges filed, I refuse to litigate this case through the media,” a spokeswoman said in a statement. “The evidence we have collected cannot ethically be disclosed, relayed or released to the public before trial.

“As I’ve previously indicated, I strongly condemn anyone in law enforcement with access to trial evidence, who has or continues to leak information prior to the resolution of this case. These unethical disclosures are only damaging our ability to conduct a fair and impartial process for all parties involved.”

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sgoldstein@nydailynews.com

Tags:
freddie gray ,
marilyn mosby

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