Former Maryland prosecutor weighs in on charges against Baltimore officers

When Baltimore City’s newly elected State Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced on May 1 her intention to bring charges in the death of Freddie Gray, she was only following Maryland law, said former Maryland prosecutor Debbie Hines.

Debbie Hines
Debbie Hines

Mosby presented “a statement of charges” that she plans to file in court later this month, explained Hines, now a Washington D.C. trial attorney, in a MSR phone interview. Hines regularly comments on legal issues on C-SPAN and other media outlets. In 2009 she launched www.legalspeaks.com, a site that deals with race and gender issues.

Hines noted that misinformation was reported on Mosby’s action. “A lot of information that was out on the first day was based on what she said and what happened,” explained Hines. Mosby has the option still to bring her charges to a grand jury “and if she doesn’t do that, then a preliminary hearing will be held,” she continued.

The Baltimore police union instead seemingly resorted to employ stereotypes to discredit Mosby, who served as an assistant state attorney for seven years before she ran and won her present position as Baltimore city attorney in 2014.  She charged six Baltimore officers with charges ranging from second-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter, in connection to Gray’s death.

“There is nothing unusual about how she brought the charges except that it’s police officers who feel that they have some higher standard of the law, which they do not,” noted Hines.  “All the stereotypes that go with Black women are [used by] the police union— ‘the angry Black woman’ [who] is out of her place,” said Hines.

“Every attack that is going to be made on her in the future is based on stereotypes that have been made for centuries on Black women,” said Hines. She added, “If anything, I think the police would think she would side with them,” as Mosby comes from a legacy of police officers, including both her parents and her grandfather, who was one of the first Black police officers in Massachusetts.

However, Mosby is also from the same area where Freddie Gray was arrested, and she campaigned on fighting police brutality.

“I don’t know her personally but based on her background, she is probably the most fair and balanced prosecutor you could ever get,” stated Hines. “The other issue that the police union is raising in terms of the swiftness of her action is so ironic because she completed her investigation at the same time the police completed their investigation.”

Any suggestions that Mosby might not be able to fairly prosecute the case were premature. “All the brouhaha . . . is all about nothing,” said Hines. Finally, Hines suggested that the Gray case may spark a movement in which more cases involving police and Blacks may be brought to trial. “You can’t make change or convince others what the problem is. In the African American community, we know what the problem is,” she pointed out.

“I think that…what is happening, and what might happen…the Freddie Gray case could be the catalyst. It’s been a long way from Rodney King to now,” concluded Hines.

 

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.