Friday, July 29, 2016
Freddie Gray case: Charges against three remaining officers dropped
A huge indictment of a careless, incompetent and racist black city administration. What happens now with the $6 million the city paid to the Freddy Gray family? Now that no city empoyees have been held responsible for Gray's death, there is no liability on the city and the payment was accordingly wrongly authorized. If the money can not be retrieved, it should be taken from the assets of the officials responsible -- Mosby and Rawlings-Blake at a minimum
Prosecutors dropped all remaining charges against three Baltimore police officers accused in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in a downtown courtroom on Wednesday morning, concluding one of the most high-profile criminal cases in Baltimore history.
The startling move was an apparent acknowledgment of the unlikelihood of a conviction following the acquittals of three other officers on similar and more serious charges by Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams, who was expected to preside over the remaining trials as well.
It also means the office of Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby will secure no convictions in the case after more than a year of dogged fighting, against increasingly heavy odds, to hold someone criminally accountable in Gray's death.
Officer William Porter's trial ended with a hung jury and a mistrial in December, before Williams acquitted Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson and Lt. Brian Rice at bench trials in May, June, and July, respectively.
In a hearing Wednesday meant to start the trial of Officer Garrett Miller, Chief Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow told Williams that the state was dropping all charges against Miller, Porter and Sgt. Alicia White. Porter had been scheduled to be retried in September, and White had been scheduled to be tried in October.
"All of our clients are thrilled with what happened today," said Catherine Flynn, Miller's attorney, outside the courthouse.
The officers still face possible administrative discipline. Internal investigations, with the help of outside police agencies, are underway.
Gray, 25, suffered severe spinal cord injuries in the back of the van in April 2015 and died a week after his arrest. His death sparked widespread, peaceful protests against police brutality, and his funeral was followed by rioting, looting and arson.
At a news conference in West Baltimore, near where Gray was arrested, Mosby defended her decision to bring the charges against the officers, and said that "as a mother," the decision to drop them was "agonizing."
But, given Williams' acquittal of Nero, Goodson and Rice and the likelihood that the remaining officers would also choose bench trials before him, Mosby said she had to acknowledge the "dismal likelihood" that her office would be able to secure a conviction.
"After much thought and prayer it has become clear that without being able to work with an independent investigatory agency from the very start, without having a say in the election of whether cases proceed in front of a judge or jury, without communal oversight of police in this community, without substantive reforms to the current criminal justice system, we could try this case 100 times and cases just like it and we would still end up with the same result," she said.
She said there is an "inherent bias" whenever "police police themselves." She said the charges she brought were not an indictment of the entire Baltimore Police Department, but she also broadly condemned the actions and testimony of some officers involved in Gray's arrest or in the department's investigation of the incident — alleging "consistent bias" at "every stage."
She said she is not "anti-police," but "anti-police brutality." She also noted the "countless sacrifices" of her prosecutors in the case, including Schatzow and Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledsoe, and said her office will continue to "fight for a fair and equitable justice system for all."
Gray's stepfather, Richard Shipley, said family members "stand behind Marilyn and her prosecuting team, and my family is proud to have them represent us." He said the prosecutors did the "best to their ability."
Shortly after Mosby's news conference, the officers, their defense attorneys and leaders of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, the union that represents the officers and paid for their defense, held their own.
Attorney Ivan Bates, who represents White and spoke on behalf of all of the officers and their attorneys, described the last year as a "nightmare" for the officers. He reiterated the defense argument in all of the cases that the officers were justified in their actions. The officers did not speak.
Lt. Gene Ryan, the FOP president, said "justice has been done." He also described Mosby's comments at her news conference as "outrageous and uncalled for and simply untrue."
Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, in a statement, defended the department's investigation into Gray's death. He also called Mosby's decision to drop the charges "a wise one" that will help the city heal and move forward.
All of the officers had pleaded not guilty. Their attorneys have said they acted reasonably and professionally, and that Gray's death was the result of a tragic accident.
Last charge dropped against anti-abortion duo behind Planned Parenthood videos
A Texas judge on Tuesday dismissed the last remaining charge against two anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos allegedly showing Planned Parenthood officials selling baby body parts.
District Judge Brock Thomas dismissed the charge of tampering with government records against 27-year-old David Daleiden and 63-year-old Sandra Merritt upon the request of the Harris County prosecutor's office.
"The dismissal of the bogus, politically motivated charges against [Center for Medical Progress] project lead David Daleiden and investigator Sandra Merritt is a resounding vindication of the First Amendment rights of all citizen journalists, and also a clear warning to any of Planned Parenthood's political cronies who would attack whistleblowers to protect Planned Parenthood from scrutiny," Daleiden said in a statement.
The pair's attorneys had pushed to have the charge dismissed, saying Daleiden and Merritt never should have been indicted. If they had been convicted of the felony charge, each could have been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
Prosecutors alleged that Daleiden and Merritt used fake driver's licenses to conceal their identities while dealing with Planned Parenthood.
Daleiden claimed victory on Tuesday, not only for his legal woes coming to an end, but also due to the continuing investigation into Planned Parenthood's practices, an investigation spurred on by the videos he helped produce.
"A year after the release of the undercover videos, the ongoing nationwide investigation of Planned Parenthood by the House Select Investigative Panel makes clear that Planned Parenthood is the guilty party in the harvesting and trafficking of baby body parts for profit," Daleiden said.
More police misbehaviour in Britain
Instead of being cautious investigators they behaved like Nazi Storm Troopers. Why did they not arrange a quiet talk with the girl before they arrested her? Too puffed up with their own importance, probably
A schoolgirl has spoken of her 'nightmare ordeal' after she was dragged out of a lesson and arrested by police after being accused of bullying another teenager.
Emma Raymond, 16, from Nottingham, said she was taken out of a revision lesson for her GCSEs by her headtacher and arrested after being accused of being the 'ringleader of a hate campaign'.
Miss Raymond, who was initially charged with harassment, says she was held in custody for over eight hours at her local police station before she was eventually released and never charged.
Miss Raymond was arrested in January after police received reports she bullied another teenager.
Nottinghamshire Police said they made the arrest in school because the threats that were reported included serious threats of physical harm - although it later transpired they were false.
Miss Raymond waived her right to anonymity and told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme this morning: 'It's the worst thing I've ever experienced. I didn't get to say anything, the next thing I knew they were putting me back in the back of their police car.
'Other kids saw what happened. Everyone was talking about it - I could tell by the looks people gave me. It felt like everyone was judging me.'
She added that the officers who arrested her would not let her call her parents, and said: 'I just wanted to speak to my parents. They were treating me like a murderer.'
She added that officers visited her home and confiscated her tablet and laptop computer.
Emma's father, Carl, said: 'I'm so frustrated and angry that it happened. They could have dealt with it so differently, just come round the house.
'She's had her DNA taken, finger prints, a mug shot. At no time was Emma's wellbeing, age and care taken into consideration.'
A Nottinghamshire Police spokesman said: 'We were investigating a report of harassment and cyber-bullying of a schoolgirl.
'Whilst the reports were being investigated further evidence came to light of serious threats of physical harm being made.
'As a result of this new information and the escalation in the potential risk, a decision was made to make an arrest at the earliest possible opportunity and an arrest was made at the school.
'It is not normal procedure for Nottinghamshire Police to make arrests on school property. 'However, in this instance, the action was judged to be warranted based on the threat and risk from the information available at the time.
'The subsequent investigation has shown this information to be false and no further action was taken against the arrested person.
'The schoolgirl who made the report was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice and a detailed investigation was carried out by CID. 'However, there was insufficient evidence to prosecute and no further action was taken.
'Nottinghamshire Police understands that the decision to make an arrest on school grounds as well as the subsequent detention at a Police station and restrictions around contact was upsetting and distressing to both the person arrested and her family.
'We have met with the family to discuss the rationale behind decision to make the arrest on school grounds.
'The decisions in this investigation were not taken lightly but made due to the information available at the time and in order to minimise the potential for physical harm.'
Nottinghamshire Police said it had received a complaint about the arrest.
Big Government, Racial Violence, and the Police
In August 1965, the streets of Los Angeles erupted in fire, as black rioters burned hundreds of stores and ill-equipped police withdrew from the violent scene. Initiated by a minor altercation with a police officer, Watts was followed by worse riots, often sparked by encounters with police, turning cities like Detroit into burnt-over districts. The “liberal” solution (more welfare spending) and the “conservative” response (militarization of the police) both went into effect. Yet, here we are in 2016 with violence between police and blacks, as if policymakers have done nothing. In fact, the solutions pursued compounded the problems they meant to solve: government has grown too big to be trusted and it is trusted least of all when young black men encounter police. And, yet, unlimited, untrustworthy government is a problem we all face.
Social welfare programs did not deliver on the promise to end poverty, crime and entrapment in low-income neighborhoods—such measures have instead destroyed black families and urban-based, private enterprises. The expansion of police power did not reduce crime until other policies were changed, including a willingness to prosecute and imprison violent criminals—which benefited African Americans who are by far the major victims by crime. Even so, police relations with blacks remained tense.
Since the 1960s, spending on welfare and police—and just about everything else—has grown enormously—affecting not only blacks but all of us. Countless new laws regulate every aspect of life. These laws usually require racial profiling, beginning with check boxes designating race. Applying for government aid or a private sector job? Tell us your race. Arrested for a crime? Government will classify you by race.
Laws are backed by government force, now more than ever. Scores of federal agencies—including the Department of Education!—have SWAT teams. The Left and the Right have expanded government heedless of adverse consequences. There are now 3,000 federal laws and 300,000 regulations with the force of law. Lethal force can be used to enforce trivial laws (Eric Garner selling loose cigarettes). Or dubious laws (the failed “War on Drugs”). Other laws target people engaged in lawful activity. Complex tax laws, for example, may ruin an honest person’s life.
My book, Race and Liberty in America: The Essential Reader (2009), illustrates how small-government advocating “classical liberals,” from Frederick Douglass to Clarence Thomas, appreciated the power and limits of government. Laws or lawsuits were necessary when forces (for example, the Ku Klux Klan) threatened inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property. But they did not turn to the government as recklessly as modern-day liberals or conservatives do—better to build character and address personal or social issues through voluntary action, such as self-help or the exercise of individual aspirations through private enterprise and civic associations.
James Forten, a black Revolutionary War veteran who became a wealthy sailmaker opposed a law that would have required blacks to register as free blacks (rather than undocumented runaway slaves). The law was clear: some blacks were free, others were slaves; the law was unobjectionable to the legislators who proposed it. The bill’s sponsors argued “If you are a free black, why worry?” Forten noted how such a law would actually be enforced by police charged with classifying who was free or unfree:
Who is this [officer]? A man, and exercising an office, where ten dollars is the fee for each delinquent, will probably be a cruel man and find delinquents where they really do not exist. The poor black is left to the merciless gripe of an avaricious [officer], without an appeal, in the event, from his tyranny or oppression!
Incentives matter. Police, like the rest of us, react to the incentives of civil forfeiture laws, fines to purchase police equipment, and much more. Administrative agencies, too, may reap fines, fees, and the mere exercise of power for personal benefit (“I am the Law!”). In some instances, the police—or their administrative equivalent—reluctantly carry out orders for others. (“I am only doing my job”). An IRS audit sends chills down spines and can, if carried out, lead one to prison or lifelong garnishment of wages for failing to understand our mindboggling tax code.
Today’s headlines focus on abuses of governmental power by police against blacks, yet the problem affects all of us. Now is a good time to recall the wisdom of pro-freedom, limited-government liberalism: “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take away everything that you have”—including life, liberty, and property.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.