BALTIMORE (AP) — Lawyers for six Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray demanded the removal of the city’s top prosecutor from their case on Tuesday, saying she was the one who asked for “enhanced” police attention at the intersection where they encountered the young black man.
An email sent to police weeks before Gray died from the spinal injury he suffered in police custody shows State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has a conflict of interest, the attorneys argued, because she had wanted police to target North Avenue and Mount Street, the intersection in West Baltimore where Gray ran from police on April 12.
The defense motion filed Tuesday says Mosby “is now an integral part of the story … both as an advocate and a witness.”
Officers caught up to Gray two blocks away, restrained him and put him in a police van that made several stops before reaching the station roughly 45 minutes later. By then, he was unresponsive, and died after a week in a coma.
Mosby charged the officers May 1 with crimes ranging from misdemeanor assault to second-degree “depraved-heart” murder. Mosby also said Gray’s arrest was illegal because officers handcuffed him prior to discovering the knife that became the basis for the charges.
On March 17, Joshua Rosenblatt, division chief of Mosby’s crime strategies unit, emailed Police Cmdr. Osborne Robinson, saying “Mosby asked me to look into community concerns regarding drug dealing in the area of North Ave. and Mount St.”
In the email, Rosenblatt praised earlier police efforts there, and said “we’d like to build on that success by targeting that intersection for enhanced prosecutorial (and hopefully police) attention.”
Robinson forwarded Rosenblatt’s email on March 20 to his lieutenants, including Brian Rice, who is charged with reckless endangerment, assault and misconduct in office in Gray’s death, and said he would be monitoring their results.
“You will conduct a daily narcotics initiative addressing North and Mount St. Your units need to utilize the cameras, activate/develop informants, conduct covert, etc.,” Robinson wrote. “This is effective immediately.”
A spokeswoman for Mosby, Rochelle Ritchie, declined comment Tuesday, saying “we will litigate this case in the courtroom and not in the media.”
In other recent action on the case, Judge Charles Peters on Thursday turned down Mosby’s request for a gag order that would have barred attorneys, police and witnesses from talking about the case publicly.
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