In the Media: Judge Rules to Use Statements of Gray Officers; Sgt. Suspended After Spitting
A digest of Baltimore news from local sources.
From The AFRO American: Judge Rules Accused Officer’s Statements Can be Used in Freddie Gray Case
"The States Attorney’s office scored another victory in the Freddie Gray case. On Tuesday, Judge Barry Williams ruled that statements that Sgt. Alicia T. White made to police on April 12 and 17 are admissible in court.
"White is one of six officers accused in the April death of Freddie Gray. All six were in court for the Oct. 13 proceedings.
"Ivan Bates, speaking for the defense, argued that the statements were improperly obtained. He told the judge that White was “compelled” to give a statement or face discipline. However Deputy State’s Attorney Jan Bledsoe said that during both interviews, White was asked to speak – not ordered. She said that she was “incredulous” at the idea that Bates would think White wouldn’t know that.
“'She was always free to go,' Williams said during his ruling. 'The court will presume that she was in good mental and physical condition.'
"Williams said that giving an interview is not the same as White being told that she had to make a statement, and that she had the opportunity to say no."
From The Baltimore Sun: Baltimore Sergeant Suspended After Video of Spitting Incident Surfaces
"A Baltimore police sergeant has been suspended after a video surfaced on social media that appeared to show him spitting on a handcuffed subject.
"Sgt. Robert Mesner, who has been with the department for 34 years, is the subject of a criminal investigation and an internal investigation, police said Tuesday. He is suspended with pay.
'The video appears to depict the police sergeant spitting on the arrestee,' interim police Commissioner Kevin Davis said in a statement. 'That is outrageously unacceptable and it directly contradicts the necessary community relationships we are striving to rehabilitate.'
"The video, shot at night, shows a man who appears to be under arrest, handcuffed and prone on the ground. A man in a police uniform standing over him leans down and appears to spit on the man.
"Bystanders in the video are heard shouting that the officer spit on the man.
"The incident occurred on Old York Road on Monday night, police said.
"The man in handcuffs was identified by police as Alfred Evan.
"Evan, a 31-year-old Parkville man, was charged with second-degree assault of a law enforcement officer, second-degree assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, according to online court records. Evan, who had been held on $25,000 bail, was released on Wednesday, according to online court records. He was held in lieu of $25,000 bail. He could not be reached for comment, and no lawyer was listed for him in court records.
"Activist Kwame Rose received videos of the incident and posted them on Twitter to his more than 7,000 followers."
From The Baltimore Sun: Mayor Plans to Offer Davis Contract with Significant Severance Package
"Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake plans to offer interim police Commissioner Kevin Davis a contract with a significant severance package if he's confirmed as Baltimore's next police chief.
"Under the terms of the deal, Davis would be paid $200,000 annually through June 30, 2020, if the City Council agrees to remove his 'interim' title. He would be eligible to receive 75 percent of one-year's salary — at least $150,000 — if a new mayor should fire him without cause.
"Davis is scheduled to appear at a confirmation hearing before a key City Council committee Wednesday. The council has the authority to confirm Davis' hiring, but has no say over the details of his contact. The contract requires a vote by the Board of Estimates, which is controlled by Rawlings-Blake.
'I've been pleased with what I have seen so far, particularly the collaborative approach he has brought to the department,' Rawlings-Blake said. 'It's clear he is a cop's cop and has the respect and confidence of the rank and file. I am hopeful he will have a smooth confirmation.'
"Councilman Nick Mosby, who is considering a mayoral run, said he's supportive of Davis' bid for permanent status as police chief, but criticized the severance package as 'completely unacceptable, ridiculous and fiscally irresponsible.'"