As Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby delivered a stunning and surprising press conference on May 1, announcing charges of the six police officers allegedly involved in Freddie Gray’s death, she held a secret close to her chest. Her office investigated the police officers and the death of Freddie Gray since the incident began. When she received the police investigation of the police on Thursday, April 30, she had already done her own due diligence. All that was left was the Medical Examiner’s report declaring Gray’s death a homicide. She received the autopsy report on May 1 stating that Mr. Gray’s death was a homicide. She had the best kept secret ever in terms of homicide investigations involving police. There were no leaks from her office, her investigators or the Baltimore City Sheriffs who assisted her office in the investigation.
In the age of social media, where even leaks occurred to the media about the police investigation to the Washington Post and other outlets, no such leaks appeared on the part of the State’s Attorney’s office. No one revealed there was a concurrent investigation going on. So the Baltimore Police Department like the rest of Baltimore and America expected a long delay before the conclusion of the investigation. Her ingenuity in the manner in which her office conducted the investigation embodies a new day for police brutality and excessive force investigations—at least in Baltimore. While I was skeptical and critical of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office handling of the case and spoke and wrote about my concerns, I never imagined the ingenuity, creativity, political savvy and excellent legal maneuvering by Ms. Mosby. I never realized that this young energetic and dynamic State’s Attorney would take the bull by the horns and lead it. The fact that no attorney or investigator leaked anything on her investigation team shows the commitment of her people to her and this case.
On the other hand, the Baltimore Police Department gave access to the Sun Papers with the caveat that they could report on it at a later time. While transparency appears to be the cry in these types of cases, it is also a double edged sword that can compromise a case when it goes to trial. And Ms. Mosby advised her City to be understanding that all the details cannot be given to the public in a homicide case. I trust that she will provide access to information that will not jeopardize the case. The Baltimore Police Department and the Fraternal Order of Police have already leaked many details of their investigation—in an attempt to show the officers did nothing wrong or that Mr. Gray committed his own injuries. The facts are now for a jury or judge to determine.
We often hear that we should think outside the box. The saying applies to most things in life. The traditional way of thinking for prosecutors is to wait until the police complete their investigation on any police involved homicide and turn it over to the prosecutor’s office for a decision on whether to bring charges or not. Then the prosecutor needs to review the police investigation and make any additional follow up interviews. Ms. Mosby circumvented that entire process by thinking outside the box. There was no need for her to wait and she did not rush to judgment. She did her homework ahead of time without any leaks, any knowledge on the part of the police and without compromising the investigation. She did nothing to compromise the investigation and did everything to advance it along in a fair and balanced manner. And for that, I applaud her efforts to this point. This is just a beginning. But it’s off to a good start.
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former Baltimore City prosecutor. She is often seen on air on Arise TV, Al Jazeera America, BET, C-Span, CCTV- America, PBS, Sky News, Fox 5, TV One and others. She also contributes to the Huffington Post. She is a native of Baltimore, MD.