The next stage of Marilyn Mosby’s catastrophic attempt to prosecute the Baltimore PD over the death of Freddie Gray kicks off tomorrow and the early signs don’t look very good for her. Next up on the list of officers to be tried is Lt. Brian Rice, the most senior member of the unit deployed on the fateful day when Gray was picked up. Being in more of a supervisory role, Rice was expected to be a tougher conviction than some of the other officers to begin with, and early indications from the judge are likely giving his defense team reason to be cautiously optimistic.
For starters, Rice has opted for a bench trial before Circuit Judge Barry Williams, the same circumstances which produced not guilty verdicts in the last two trials. And in the closing steps of the preliminary proceedings, Williams dealt the prosecution yet another blow. (Yahoo News)
Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams ruled Tuesday that prosecutors can’t enter into evidence 4,000 pages of documents involving the training of Lt. Brian Rice, the fourth of six officers — three black, three white — to be tried in the young black man’s death…
Prosecutors are expected to argue that the 17-year Baltimore Police veteran knew or should have known that he and the officers he commanded were violating orders by intentionally leaving Gray unbuckled. Examining his in-service training records in court might have helped.
After three trials, Williams has yet to rule that the officers committed any crimes. The first, heard by a jury, ended in a mistrial. The next two officers let Williams alone decide their fates, and he acquitted both. Now Rice wants a bench trial as well, on charges that also include assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
This prosecution team is beginning to gain the reputation of being The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight at this point. The previous trial of Officer Goodson centered – in part – around this question of whether or not the cops should have known to belt Gray in after seating him in the van. That argument didn’t carry enough weight before, so now they decided to dump Rice’s entire training record on the defense only a few days before the trial began in hopes of proving that at least he should have known to do it. The judge was in no mood for it.
“Why would you expect the court to allow you to drop 4,000 pages on the defense a few days before trial without repercussions?” the judge countered. “You’ve said it’s been difficult for you to get the documents from the police department. Ok, then go up the chain. Talk to people. Go to the court. You didn’t do that.”
It sounds like it’s certainly possible that the prosecutors had trouble getting the documents, but that’s not the judge’s problem nor is it the responsibility of the defense. Then again, this is the same team that attempted to conceal exculpatory evidence in a previous case, so perhaps Williams is in even less of a mood to cut them any slack.
It doesn’t seem to matter at this point. With a not guilty verdict in the books for the officers most directly in contact with Freddie Gray, it would be remarkable indeed if this same judge found Rice guilty of anything beyond some sort of minor negligence charge. And given the testimony from the previous trials regarding Gray’s actions in the van that day and the timeline of events, Marilyn Mosby may be in for her fourth straight loss in what is turning into an epic fail of legendary proportions.