BALTIMORE – A Baltimore judge has refused to dismiss charges against six police officers accused in the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died a week after suffering a critical spinal injury while in custody.
During a pretrial hearing Wednesday, Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams denied a defense motion for the charges to be dropped. Defense attorneys had sought to drop the charges because of prosecutorial misconduct on the part of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
Williams said that while he was “troubled” by some of the comments Mosby made during a May 1 news conference, they did not compromise the defendants’ right to a fair trial. He said allegations of prosecutorial misconduct must be addressed by the Attorney Grievance Commission.
The judge also denied a motion to recuse Mosby and her staff due to what defense attorneys characterized as conflicts of interest.
Williams called the assertion that Mosby’s judgment was impacted by the fact that her husband Nick Mosby is a councilman in a district that experienced a disproportionate amount of violence “troubling and condescending.”
“Being a councilman is not a reason for recusal,” he said.
Andrew Graham, an attorney representing Office Caesar Goodson, unsuccessfully argued that Mosby’s comments after filing the charges against the officers were “reckless and unprofessional,” and violated the rules of conduct.
Graham likened Mosby’s comments on the case to a “pep rally calling for payback.”
Journalists and spectators filled most of the approximately 160 seats in the wood-paneled courtroom Wednesday.
CBS News Justice Reporter Paula Reid reported from inside the courthouse that the defendants were not present, but Mosby was.
Williams will hear arguments about whether the officers should be tried together or separately when court resumes later Wednesday.
The 25-year-old Gray died on April 12, a week after suffering a critical spinal injury in custody. Charged in connection with his death are Officers Edward Nero, Garrett Miller, William Porter and Caesar Goodson, as well as Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White.
The officers face charges that range from second-degree assault, a misdemeanor, to second-degree “depraved-heart” murder. Gray’s death led to protests in Baltimore and a riot that prompted National Guard intervention and a city-wide curfew.
Dozens of protesters rallied outside the Baltimore courthouse Wednesday to express their anger and indignation over Gray’s death. Many of them then marched in the street to the city’s Inner Harbor area, where they blocked a main road briefly. Police lined up behind them, and directed them out of the road.
Police spokesman T.J. Smith said Wednesday afternoon that charges were being filed against a person who was arrested for ignoring warnings to get back on the sidewalk.
The man arrested was identified by witnesses as Kwame Rose, a well-known local activist.
Rose said he was hit by a car and needed medical attention, though some witnesses said he was not struck. Police eventually took Rose away in an ambulance.
Separately, interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said a police officer was kicked in the face by a protester during an incident at Inner Harbor.