By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun
Aug. 31–The Baltimore Police Department has canceled leave for officers on Wednesday and on Sept. 10, when hearings are scheduled in the case against six officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, police said.
Canceling leave ensures the department has a maximum number of officers working or on call “in case there are any issues we need to respond to,” said T.J. Smith, the department’s chief spokesman.
Freddie Gray, 25, died on April 19, a week after he was injured while being arrested by Baltimore police. Video of the arrest surfaced and protests broke out, beginning outside the police station Gray was brought to and spreading around Baltimore, and, eventually, to other cities.
The decision was made last week “out of an abundance of caution, just so we’re not caught flat-footed in case there is a need,” Smith said.
Gray, 25, died in April after suffering a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody. His death spurred protests against police brutality, and his funeral was followed by rioting, looting and arson. The police department was criticized, including by the Fraternal Order of Police union that represents rank-and-file officers, for the way it handled the unrest, including how it deployed officers. The department has said that it’s officers were outnumbered and “out flanked” by large crowds of people during the unrest.
Six officers have been charged in connection to Gray’s arrest and death, and face charges ranging from second-degree depraved heart murder to manslaughter and assault. All have pleaded not guilty.
Wednesday’s hearing is expected to center on several motions filed in the case by defense attorneys and prosecutors, including defense motions to have the case dismissed and for Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s office to be recused. How and whether the officers will be split up for trial will also be discussed.
The hearing on Sept. 10 is expected to focus on a defense motion to have the case moved out of Baltimore.
Smith said he did not know Monday how many officers are affected by the cancellation of leave for the two hearing dates. The force has about 3,000 officers.
Police do not release details about the staging or deployment of officers, but an increased law enforcement presence is expected during the hearings near and at the Circuit Court buildings downtown.
City police commanders have also met with their counterparts from law enforcement agencies in surrounding jurisdictions about preparedness during the hearings.
(c)2015 The Baltimore Sun
Visit The Baltimore Sun at www.baltimoresun.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.