Information about Freddie Gray Case, Your Donations and Help are Needed

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Like many of you, the death of Freddie Gray on April 19, after sustaining injuries while in Baltimore Police Department custody, hit a nerve. After growing questions around the circumstances of his arrest and fewer answers, an understandable frustration emerged. Gray’s story is just far too common in this City. For those of us who have been fighting, for those of us old enough to remember, we had seen this militarization of our streets before. The crackdown focused on the communities that consistently bear the brunt of systematic inequities, racial profiling, and divestments in education and infrastructure. On the streets, in our schools, community centers, churches, synagogues, and mosques, we found each other. Young people used the lessons of past struggles and resolved that their voices would be heard. We talked, we strategized and we resolved to take back our City. We will never let down our guard when we see injustice.

I want to use this opportunity to inform you about the state of the charges against the officers, what your State Delegates and Senators have done on this issue, and how you can help.

On May 1st, Marilyn Mosby, State’s Attorney for Baltimore City, announced the charges her office is filing against six Baltimore City Police Officers for their alleged role in the death of Freddie Gray. The State’s Attorney’s Office conducted an independent investigation into this matter upon receiving notice of the incident.

The charges with the respective maximum penalties are as follows:

Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr.

1) Second degree depraved heart murder (30 yrs.)

2) Manslaughter (involuntary) (10 yrs.)

3) Assault/second degree (10 yrs.)

4) Manslaughter by vehicle (gross negligence) (10 yrs.)

5) Manslaughter by vehicle (criminal negligence) (3 yrs.)

6) Misconduct in office (8th Amendment*)

Officer William G. Porter

1) Manslaughter (involuntary) (10 yrs.)

2) Assault/second degree (10 yrs.)

3) Misconduct in office (8th Amendment*)

Lt. Brian W. Rice

1) Manslaughter (involuntary) (10 yrs.)

2) Assault/second degree (10 yrs.)

3) Assault/second degree (10 yrs.)

4) Misconduct in office (8th Amendment*)

5) Misconduct in office (8th Amendment*)

6) False imprisonment (8th Amendment*)

Officer Edward M. Nero

1) Assault/second degree (10 yrs.)

2) Assault/second degree (10 yrs.)

3) Misconduct in office (8th Amendment*)

4) Misconduct in office (8th Amendment*)

5) False imprisonment (8th Amendment*)

Officer Garrett E. Miller

1) Assault/second degree (10 yrs.)

2) Assault/second degree (10 yrs.)

3) Misconduct in office (8th Amendment*)

4) Misconduct in office (8th Amendment*)

5) False imprisonment (8th Amendment*)

Sgt. Alicia D. White

1) Manslaughter (involuntary) (10 yrs.)

2) Assault/second degree (10 yrs.)

3) Misconduct in office (8th Amendment*)

*Any sentence that does not constitute cruel & unusual punishment.

What this means

After the medical examiner determined that Gray’s death is a result of homicide, the State’s Attorney is obligated to determine if the homicide is a murder and what level of murder should be charged. In this case, the highest charge is second degree depraved heart murder that carries a sentence of up to 30 years.

Why was it not first degree murder? First degree murder requires proof that the murder was premeditated. They did not have the evidence to support this charge. However, there are different forms of second-degree murder in Maryland which recognize a different kind of malice. Murder in the second degree depraved heart is one such equivalent. What this charge means is that the suspect committed the act with reckless disregard for value of human life.

Next Steps

Now that the officers have been charged, the officers’ cases will go to court. From there, there are several factors that will determine whether each particular case goes before a judge or a jury. Due to the nature of the felony second degree murder charge, that case could go to the Maryland Circuit Court. If it is tried within Baltimore City, it would go to the 8th Judicial Circuit Court where there are 30 different judges.

If a depraved heart homicide goes to trial, jurors are given instructions on how to form a conviction.

The State must prove:

(1) that the defendant caused the death of Freddie Gray;

(2) that the defendant’s conduct created a very high risk to the life of Freddie Gray; and

(3) that the defendant, conscious of such risk, acted with extreme disregard of the life-endangering consequences.

We don’t yet know exactly what will happen with the trial because there are many variables still in motion at this time. However, we do know that this case is a clarion call to action.

Baltimore City Delegation Press Statement on the Case of Freddie Gray

The House and Senate Baltimore City Delegations issued a joint press release on the case of Freddie Gray. I encourage you to click here to read it.

In this press release, we make our position that further actions need to engage partners from community organizations, the business community, non-profit organizations, ordinary citizens, and the State to rebuild and strengthen the economic and social infrastructure of our communities. We also support action for reforms in police accountability, civilian review, and more funding for educational and recreational programs. Finally, we included background on the legislation we passed this session on criminal justice reforms including setting a framework for the use of body cameras by police statewide. We will fight next session for reforms in police accountability and civilian review and other needed reforms for criminal justice.

Helping Homeless Youth Impacted by Last Monday Night 

Although the national media has newly focused its spotlight on Baltimore City, we know that the issues we face are not new and will not disappear once those media outlets leave. As such, the solutions we need are structural and long term. One place that needs long term support that was impacted by the situation on Monday is the Youth Empowered Society (YES) Drop in Center. The damage the YES space experienced Monday night was profiled in an article by the Baltimore Sun. A fire damaged the front room and smoke damaged much of the building. They have been operating out of Red Emma’s and St. Johns Church this past week.

YES was founded and is run by formerly homeless youth and their allies. They work to end homelessness in Baltimore by supporting currently/formerly homeless youth to become leaders in the community and by providing desperately needed direct services to homeless youth. The center is located in the 43rd district at 23rd and Charles St. and is always seeking supplies for the 20-30 homeless youth who drop-in at YES four days a week for food, clothing, hygiene supplies, case management, friendship, and a safe place to spend their time. Click here for their amazon wishlist, or call (410) 235-7744 to set up a drop-off time for donations. Click here for the YES wish list for spring 2015. I encourage you to look at their lists of need and give what you can.

As we know, rebuilding our communities and neighborhoods is much larger than any one case thrust into the media spotlight, or one incident during a protest. I encourage you to become a monthly donor to the YES drop in center so that they can have reliable and sustainable support for the long term achievable goal of ending homelessness. Click donate below to give what you can today, and please sign up to become a monthly donor to help build the long term solutions Baltimore needs.

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Clean Ups – The Mayor’s office is managing a form to keep track of citizens who want to volunteer. If you are looking for somewhere to go and roll-up your sleeves today and help out, you can find a list of locations here.

If your community, a local business, or a block down the street is organizing a cleanup and you want to find other volunteers to join you, you can list your location here.

You can share photos from your community using #OneBaltimore hash tag on social media.

I invite you to send ideas and concerns or additional questions to me at my district office. I always appreciate hearing from you and I hope that you will not hesitate to contact me at mary.washington@house.state.md.us or 410-235-2707. If you would like to stay updated on the work I am doing with our community, please visit www.delmarywashington.com.

In Partnership,

Delegate Mary Washington, Ph.D.

43rd District, Baltimore City