Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced late Thursday morning that the Baltimore Police Department has delivered the results of its initial investigation into the death of Freddie Gray to the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office.
The mayor’s office in a statement did not indicate, when, or if, any of the results of the initial city police probe into Gray’s death will be made public. The results of the initial police investigation had been expected Friday.
The criminal investigation into Gray’s death is now in the hands of the Office of the State’s Attorney, which is also conducting an independent investigation, the mayor’s office said in its statement. Ultimately, it will be up to City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to determine whether to file criminal charges. Once the criminal investigation is complete, an internal disciplinary city police department process can begin, the mayor’s office stated.
“Even as the Baltimore City State’s Attorney conducts her investigation, it is important to remember that another outside, independent investigation is also taking place by the U.S. Department of Justice,” Rawlings-Blake said. “The family of Mr. Gray wants answers. I want answers. Our entire city deserves answers into Mr. Gray’s death. I ask that everyone remain patient and vigilant on this path to justice.”
Bruce Goldfarb, spokesman for the state’s medical examiner office told Baltimore magazine this morning that every case that the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner investigates is delivered to the City State’s Attorney directly and that they do not release anything to the public while a case is being investigated or prosecuted.
For the past two days now, civic leaders and local elected officials have been trying to lower expectations that more information about the circumstances of the 25-year-old Gray’s death this month in police custody would be forthcoming this week. The news the Baltimore Police Department has delivered the results of its initial investigation to the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office comes a day before large protests scheduled for late Friday afternoon and Saturday.
Little new information is likely to be released publicly from the initial city police investigation, city civic leaders and local elected officials have cautioned. They have been trying for several days, in the aftermath of violent protests earlier this week, to tamp down expectations that significant new information would be released to the public immediately following the initial city police investigation. The Gray family’s attorney, Billy Murphy, and others, including City Councilmen Brandon Scott and Nick Mosby, who represents Gray’s district and who is married to the City State’s Attorney, have also been preaching patience to protestors this week.
On Tuesday night, crowds of young demonstrators noisily but peacefully marched and chanted around a cordoned off City Hall in Baltimore, Murphy tried to get the message out that the legal process will take time and protestors need to remain patient. He said that it could be weeks or longer before full investigations are completed and new Baltimore City state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby makes a decision on filing charges against any police officers involved in the fatal arrest and transport of the Gray earlier this month.
“I wish I could push a button, but justice doesn’t happen that way,” Murphy told protestors gathered around him after an appearance on CNN. “We need to lower expectations. We need to tell people straight that this is going to take time to get this right. So let’s get the word out together.”
Murphy said that he does not expect the results of their investigation to provide the public with major insights into the ongoing investigation of Gray’s death in police custody. He certainly doesn’t expect Mosby’s office to indicate a quick path to any charges. “There may be some information that gets released to the public, but I don’t think Friday [the originally scheduled conclusion of the initial police investigation] will be some magic day for disclosure,” he said.
Further, Murphy added, it terms of legal strategy, it would not behoove the City state’s attorney to tip her hand before the investigation gets to the stage where she’s ready to go forward with any potential prosecutions. “[Baltimore Ravens head coach] John Harbaugh doesn’t telegraph to [New England Patriots head coach] Bill Belichick what play he’s going to call before he runs it,” Murphy said. “You don’t to lose. You don’t want me to lose. That’s not my reputation.”
Baltimore City Council member Brandon Scott, who has expressed deep anger and frustration over Monday night’s violence and unrest in the city, shared Murphy’s desire to tamp down expectations. He also said that he doesn’t expect an accelerated investigation and/or legal action in Gray’s case. “It’s a fragile situation,” Scott said, acknowledging many protestors are demanding speedy justice. “Which is why everyone—community leaders, clergy, parents, adults, the media—needs to explain to those who want to see justice in the Freddie Gray tragedy to be patient.
“We saw the legal process took months in Ferguson, with Trayvon [Martin], with Eric Garner in New York,” Scott continued. “I’m sure some information can be released to the public [immediately], but I don’t know how much. I’m not going to be disappointed if it’s not a lot. The City state’s attorney needs to make sure she crosses all the ‘t’s’ and dots all the ‘i’s.’ And I’m sure she will.”
Nick Mosby, who helped lead a clergy march on Monday in West Baltimore as riots exploded, said, “We have to get this right.”
“It’s been many years of growing frustration,” Mosby said, referring to the plight of many of the city’s young protestors. “[Freddie Gray’s death] just blew the lid off. Many of these are children and teenagers who have been living in harsh, abject poverty without any hope of a better future. They also don’t have the means, or knowledge, to express that frustration and that’s something we have to help them learn.”
Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP, asked that protestors remain patient and peaceful as investigations and the legal process around Gray’s death continue. She also said that he doesn’t want city police, state troopers, out-of-town law enforcement agencies and the Maryland National Guard to escalate confrontations with protestors when they are not being violent.
Ben Jealous, former head of the national NAACP, still lives in Baltimore, where the organization’s headquarters are located. His parents met as schoolteachers many decades ago at Harlem Park Elementary/Middle School in West Baltimore. He also said the causes and conditions for the protests coming out of the city’s poverty-stricken neighborhoods have been simmering for decades.
He highlighted the peaceful protests Tuesday night throughout the city, which were followed up again by peaceful—and even celebratory— rallies and demonstrations, including a huge, diverse march from Penn Station to City Hall Wednesday afternoon.
“The city needs to be focused on rebuilding and becoming stronger after all this,” Jealous said outside City Hall. “I think the seeds [in the peaceful protests] are being planted to do just that.”