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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Police Charged in Death of Freddie Gray. Aired 16-16:30p ET
Aired May 1, 2015 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news right now, a press conference from Baltimore police union representatives set to begin at any moment.
This will be the first time we hear from police since this morning's massive developments. We will bring those press statements to you live as they happen.
Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper live again from Baltimore, Maryland.
Today, for the first time in weeks, we actually saw smiles on the streets of Baltimore. Some of the people in this town are celebrating. They're shouting that justice is winning. Today, 19 days after police tossed Freddie Gray in the back of that police van, the Baltimore City state's attorney shocked the citizens of this city, saying that she has found probable cause to charge six police officers in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, saying his arrest was illegal, and his death was a homicide.
State's attorney Marilyn Mosby saying four of the six officers will be charged with manslaughter, among other charges, but the driver of the van, Officer Caesar Goodson, faces the most serious, the most damning. He stands accused of second-degree murder.
Others say this move by the prosecutor may have been rushed and the facts do not bear it out, bear out what she's charged.
Let's go live to that press conference at Fraternal Order of Police headquarters right now.
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GENE RYAN, PRESIDENT, BALTIMORE FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE: ... frustrated we are this morning as events and information announced by the state's attorney.
We are disappointed in the apparent rush to judgment, given the fact the investigation into this matter has not been concluded. Our officers, like every other American citizen, are entitled to due process. We will continue to support them throughout this judicial process, which we believe will result in a finding of innocence.
We also promise all active-duty officers that we will continue to work diligently to ensure that you will receive the necessary support from the FOP to enable you to complete your mission safely.
At this time, I will turn it over to our attorney, Mike Davey.
MICHAEL DAVEY, ATTORNEY FOR BALTIMORE POLICE OFFICERS: Good afternoon. My name is Michael Davey. I'm an attorney representing Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3.
My firm has been retained to represent Lieutenant Rice, and I'm here today to speak on behalf of all of the officers and their legal representation.
In my 20 years' career as a law enforcement officer and 16 years as an attorney, I have never seen such a hurried rush to file criminal charges, which I believe are driven by forces which are separate and apart from the application of law and the facts of this case as we know them.
No one condones police misconduct. This is especially true of the entire FOP membership, including my client, who is a 17-year veteran of this department, who has dedicated his life to serving the public.
Let me state in no uncertain terms that Lieutenant Rice and all of the officers involved at all times acted reasonably and in accordance with their training as Baltimore police officers. No officer injured Mr. Gray, caused harm to Mr. Gray, and they are truly saddened by his death.
These officers did nothing wrong. As all of the facts surrounding this case come out in the appropriate forum, the officers' lack of wrongdoing will be made abundantly clear. We believe that the actions taken today by the state's attorney are an egregious rush to judgment, and we have grave concerns about the fairness integrity of the prosecution of our officers.
Let me reiterate two things. Lieutenant Rice and all of the officers are deeply affected by Mr. Gray's passing, and that his injuries did not occur as a result of any action or inaction on the part of these officers.
It is our intention to try this case in the courtroom and not the media. These statements have been made in an effort to protect all of the officers from undue prejudicial effective publicity surrounding this case. We believe that these officers will be vindicated, as they have done nothing wrong.
At this time, I would turn it over to Lieutenant Kenneth Butler, who is president of the Vanguard Justice Society.
LT. KENNETH BUTLER, PRESIDENT, VANGUARD JUSTICE SOCIETY: Good afternoon.
My name is Kenneth Butler. I'm a lieutenant with Baltimore City police. As a member of the Baltimore City Police Department for 29 years, I should begin by saying that we are extremely frustrated and shocked by the circumstances that have transpired today. [16:05:15]
As Baltimore police officers, we are not at odds with the community. Let me repeat that. We are not at odds with the community. In fact, we are sworn to protect the community and those who are protesting against the six officers involved in this case. Our organization has supported these officers since the beginning of this difficult situation, and we will continue to do so. Thank you.
DAVEY: At this time, we will take very limited questions.
QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) special prosecutor this morning. Is that (OFF-MIKE) are you still hoping the state's attorney will appoint a special prosecutor?
DAVEY: We're still hoping that that is reviewed by an independent prosecutor.
QUESTION: What kind of conflicts do you see, Mr. Gene Ryan, that you outlined in your letter between (OFF-MIKE) and the attorney in (OFF-MIKE)
RYAN: I already made my statement. And the statement speaks for itself. I have no further comments on that.
QUESTION: What about conflicts (OFF-MIKE)
RYAN: I have no further comments. I already put a statement out.
QUESTION: You say that the officers did nothing. (OFF-MIKE) should, like, they should have buckled him in. Are you saying that that was not a failure (OFF-MIKE)
DAVEY: I'm saying there very may well be a failure in the policy and the facts will come out as we move forward.
QUESTION: Mr. Davey, there was a report that was just tweeted out. According to Baltimore Police Department sources, they're telling a reporter (OFF-MIKE) said the medical examiner switched the ruling on Gray's death from accidental to homicide after -- quote, unquote (OFF-MIKE)
DAVEY: I have no information about that. I have no knowledge of that. We have yet to see a preliminary autopsy report. We have never seen the final autopsy report. We have not interviewed or spoken to anyone involved at the medical examiner's office, so I can't even comment on something like that.
QUESTION: The Baltimore police commissioner said he did an exhaustive investigation. Really, it's ongoing. What elements are not complete (OFF-MIKE)
DAVEY: Until we see what they have done, I can't answer that. I can't speculate as to what they did or didn't do. I just find it very difficult that it's not a rush to judgment when conducting a case in which someone has been charged with second-degree murder, they can wrap it up in two weeks. That's all I can say.
QUESTION: Who is responsible to Mr. Gray's death?
DAVEY: Until I see the investigative file, until we get the discovery in this case, I can't answer that question.
QUESTION: President Ryan, can you speak to the mood of the officer? There's been reports that officers, the morale is very low. There is criticism of the mayor. Can you speak to the mood of the officers and how they're doing? (OFF-MIKE)
RYAN: Like I said, I'm sure they're disappointed. I haven't been out and talked with them yet to see exactly what the mood is. With that at that, I can tell you they're not happy. This is going to -- this decision to charge them officers is going to make our job even harder. I can say that.
QUESTION: Mr. Davey, just this morning, the state's attorney said that the knife that was found on Freddie Gray was legal. It wasn't spring-action. It wasn't a switchblade. You said -- quote -- a week ago, "Had he not had a knife or an illegal weapon on him, he would have been released after the proper paperwork was done."
Have you seen this knife? Are you certain that this was an illegal knife?
DAVEY: I have not seen the nice. And that determination will be made by a judge of a jury when we get that far as to whether there was probable cause to make that arrest.
QUESTION: So, that statement was premature?
DAVEY: I don't believe it was premature. It was based on information that I knew then and I know now.
QUESTION: Have the officers been forthcoming with information, because we just learned about this additional stop on Thursday?
DAVEY: The officers have been forthcoming and cooperated in this investigation. That's all I can say about that at this point.
QUESTION: Can you tell us the officers races and addresses?
DAVEY: No. I -- for their own safety, I will not do that.
QUESTION: What about this belief on the part of the protesters that race played a big part in this (OFF-MIKE)
DAVEY: I'm not going to get caught up into the politics. That's what's getting us, I believe, here today.
QUESTION: Do you believe that it's politically motivated, that the medical examiner found that this was homicide? Do you think he has political motivations?
DAVEY: I cannot even think about commenting on that, nor would I.
QUESTION: I'm sorry?
QUESTION: What, then, is the political motivation?
DAVEY: I believe that the publicity in this case is driving force to a rush to judgment, and causing this prosecution to move so quickly.
That's it. Thank you very much.
TAPPER: You just heard from Baltimore police union representatives, specifically Gene Ryan of FOP Lodge 3, attorney Michael Davey and then Lieutenant Kenneth Butler of the Vanguard Justice Society, three representatives of the police force here in Baltimore, saying they have never seen such a rush to bring charges against police.
The attorney there, Mr. Davey, suggesting that it was politics that resulted in what happened today, in the announcement from the state's attorney, that the officers, in his view, did nothing wrong. No officer caused harm to Mr. Gray, he said.
Let's bring in CNN justice reporter Evan Perez and also CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns, who is at the police staging area, also here in Baltimore.
Evan, let me start with you.
It may not be a rush to judgment, but this announcement from the state's attorney did come quicker than a lot of people expected.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: You know, 24 hours ago, Jake, the police commissioner, Anthony Batts, in his press conference said that he expected more investigation to take place, that this case was far from over.
We now know that this state attorney was doing her own work, that she brought in outside investigators on her own, and that, frankly, she was ready to bring charges. She barely got these -- the evidence from the police, yesterday, and this morning she gets the -- she got the autopsy report from the medical examiner, and she was ready to go.
So she clearly -- you know, she'd been doing all her work all along.
TAPPER: And, Evan, what is the status of the six officers being charged with these crimes that range all the way up to second-degree murder? Earlier today, five of them were in custody. The other one was not. What's the status now?
PEREZ: We were just over at the -- at booking central here in Baltimore. We're told all six have now been brought in. They're being processed, and we should hear whether or not they're going to be released immediately, or whether or not they're going to have a further bail hearing. Jake.
TAPPER: All right, and one other note. While the charges the state's attorney brought forward today pleased a lot of people in this town, we should note, convicting these officers is a whole other matter.
Some of the charges, you and I were talking, may even have been brought in an attempt to get officers to flip on their fellow officers in the case.
DAVEY: Well, you know, that's often, you know, what happens in these cases. You have six officers. Some of them are charged with lesser charges. And that certainly encourages them.
And if you're a lawyer for some of the officers charged with some of the lesser crimes, that's your strategy. You want to get separated from -- certainly from officer Caesar Goodson, who is the driver and who's the one facing the second-degree murder charge, 30 years if he gets convicted.
TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, we're going to have much more on the legal status of this case, but let me go to Joe Johns, who's at the police staging area here in Baltimore.
What more can you tell us about the specific charges? What are the particulars of what each officer stands accused of having done?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Right.
So let's go through it. The charges against officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the transport van, are the most serious. He's charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, which means indifference to human life. It does, as Evan said, carry a possible sentence of 30 years.
He's also charged with involuntary manslaughter, manslaughter by vehicle, which is a criminal negligence count, as well as misconduct in office. Of the three bicycle officers, Lieutenant Brian Rice was charged with involuntary manslaughter, Rice and officers Garrett Miller, as well as Edward Nero, were charged with illegally arresting Gray.
The prosecutor said the officers who arrived on the scene, William Porter and Sergeant Alicia White, failed to give Gray medical assistance and failed to strap him in to the police van. Both of them are charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office. So these are very serious charges, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Joe Johns, Evan Perez, thank you both so much.
I want to go now to CNN justice correspondent Pamela Brown. Pamela, this morning, most of us in the media thought the state's
attorney would come out and say that the investigation is ongoing. Instead, she dropped a bombshell and sent a very clear message. In her words, no one is above the law. Justice does not discriminate, even against police officers.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. It really was a bombshell announcement from Baltimore's chief prosecutor.
She said -- she came out today and said that all six officers involved were complicit in Freddie Gray's death, first by failing to seat-belt Gray in the van, then second by denying him medical help multiple times. But even before the officers put Gray in the van, the prosecutors said today they committed a crime.
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MARILYN MOSBY, BALTIMORE STATE'S ATTORNEY: We have probable cause to file criminal charges.
BROWN (voice-over): Baltimore state's attorney Marilyn Mosby not mincing words, saying even before police officers placed Freddie Gray inside the police van, he never should have been arrested.
MOSBY: No crime has been committed by Mr. Gray.
BROWN: Gray was found carrying a knife, but the prosecutor said it was legal.
MOSBY: Mr. Gray was then placed in a prone position with his arms handcuffed behind his back. It was at this time that Mr. Gray indicated that he could not breathe and requested an inhaler, to no avail.
BROWN: Mosby says not only did the officers failed to give Gray medical help, they no longer got medical help, they made another grave mistake when they put him into this police van.
MOSBY: At no point was he secured by a seat belt while in the wagon, contrary to a BPD general order.
BROWN: The van drove away from the scene, and while the exact route is unknown, made its first stop here, where officers took Gray out of the van to put shackles on his legs and flex cuffs on his wrists.
MOSBY: Officer Miller, Officer Nero and Lieutenant Rice then loaded Mr. Gray back into the wagon, placing him on his stomach, head first on to the floor of the wagon. Once again, Mr. Gray was not secured by a seat belt in the wagon.
BROWN: The officer driving the van made another stop here.
MOSBY: Despite stopping for the purpose of checking on Mr. Gray's condition, and at no point did he seek nor did he render any medical assistance for Mr. Gray. BROWN: Several blocks later, the driver stopped for a third
time, and three other officers arrived to check on Gray.
MOSBY: Mr. Gray at that time requested help, and indicated that he could not breathe. Officer Porter asked Mr. Gray if he needed a medic, at which time Mr. Gray indicated, at least twice, that he was in need of a medic.
BROWN: Mosby says the officers did not call a medic, and once again failed to seat belt Gray. The van's driver decided to move on. At this fourth stop here, the van picked up this man, Donte Allen, who was put on the other side of a metal partition.
DONTE ALLEN: The only thing I heard, little banging. I thought someone was over there banging his head or something.
BROWN: Mosby says Gray was once again neglected.
MOSBY: Sargent Alicia White, Officer Porter and Officer Goodson observed Mr. Gray unresponsive on the floor of the wagon.
BROWN: But it wasn't until 25 minutes later when the van reached the police station that a medic was called. At that point, she says Gray was in cardiac arrest and not breathing. The medical examiner and prosecutor concluded Gray's death was a homicide.
MOSBY: Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon.
BROWN: All six officers are facing criminal charges we've learned, including assault and misconduct, all six are now in police custody.
And, Jake, this is far from over. We heard earlier from the attorney of one of the officers, he said this was an egregious rush to judgment by the prosecutor and he plans to fight these charges -- Jake.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Pamela Brown, thank you so much.
Today's announcement in Baltimore to charge six police officers in Freddie Gray's death came quickly, just one day after police delivered their review and within hours of a medical examiner's report. Some are praising the decision. Others in Baltimore are calling for the city's lead prosecutor to step away from the case.
Stay with us.
[16:22:24] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We're live from Baltimore. You're looking at images from all over this city. "Not a riot, a
revolution," says one. Just a few near city hall. A lot of protests.
In the minutes after state's attorney Marilyn Mosby unveiled the charges against the six police officers in the death, homicide, she said, of Freddie Gray, those who have been marching in the name of justice for Gray demonstrated a mixture of emotions. There was surprise. There was relief, excitement, exhilaration. But some raw angst, too, misgivings, concern that beyond this case, much in Baltimore, indeed much in the United States, still needs to change.
CNN's Brian Todd is swimming in a sea of marchers right now.
Brian, what are the people saying in your crowd?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, right now, we're more than five hours into what has been a very peaceful, very joyous celebration of the announcement of those charges today. These people have been out here since just before maybe 11:00 this morning, celebrating, giving -- across the street, they were giving kind of testimonials on a loud speaker, prayers, speeches, things like that. And it's been very positive and very celebratory.
The police have, I'd say, a large presence out here but are not kind of in their face with it. They're giving people their space. They are allowing them to even come out into a lane of this street of North Avenue here, and celebrate, and express themselves, and right now, they've -- what they've done, try to keep this a functioning intersection and set up cones to, you know, to have police officers be more able to direct traffic and just keep the traffic rolling through here. So that's what they have done.
Jake, a lot of these protestors have been out here, we've seen a lot of the same people coming out here -- some of the same people who have taken part in the marches that have just gone throughout this city for miles and miles at a time. I see some of those same people out here expressing relief, but also saying that they're not quite satisfied yet. They won't be completely satisfied unless there are convictions in this case.
But for now, right now, on this Friday, they are celebrating, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Brian Todd. Thank you so much.
I want to go right now to CNN's Miguel Marquez, also out there in the thick of it all.
Miguel, where you are in Baltimore, how are people reacting? What is the mood?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is the neighborhood where Mr. Gray was arrested and eventually basically died at the police station. What started off as a riot and looting this week, it has literally become a street party here. [16:25:03] But make no mistake about it, I want to show you this.
These are police officers from Montgomery County who arrived here, and that they are still on patrol as well.
But for this group here, today's charges -- let me ask you guys. The charges today, are you happy about the charges today?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're satisfied.
MARQUEZ: Satisfied with the charges, but do you think these officers will be convicted?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're custody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to break, after the break.
MARQUEZ: But do you think they'll be convicted?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throw away the key! Throw away the key, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lil Kris on the radio. Over here, justice --
MARQUEZ: This is the concern I hear across the neighborhood. People are very, very happy for the charges today. Do they think a conviction will happen? They are very doubtful.
So, they are hoping that at some point they will see that conviction as well. You know how these things go, always very difficult to tell, but for now, literally, a street party. The mood has completely changed from one of lockdown and curfew to absolute celebration -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Miguel Marquez in West Baltimore -- thank you so much.
We're going to take a quick break. Coming up, a change in tone for demonstrations, of course, but her stern announcement to charge six officers set off a social media avalanche, and also had many asking, just who is this state's attorney? Who is Marilyn Mosby? At 35 years old, the youngest chief prosecutor in the major U.S. city.
We'll take a closer look at her and her story, coming up.