01 May 2015

Charges for Murder and Manslaughter, but the Bigger Picture is Worse

All 6 police officers have been charged in death of Freddie Gray:
The six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray – who died after being injured in police custody – have been charged criminally, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday.

Mosby's announcement on the steps of the War Memorial Building was greeted with cheers and applause. Mosby said she told Gray's family that "no one is above the law and I would pursue justice upon their behalf."

The city was gearing up for another round of demonstrations after the announcement. Baltimore City and Maryland state offices granted workers in the city liberal leave early Friday afternoon.

After the charges were announced, Desmond Taylor, 29, shouted in jubilee in front of the War Memorial Building.

"I did not expect this, but I prayed for it," he said. "This day means that your actions bring consequences in Baltimore City."

Reacting to news of the charges, President Barack Obama called it "absolutely vital that the truth come out."

"What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth," the president said. "That's what people around the country expect."

All six officers were in custody and being processed at Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center as of 2 p.m., said Gerard Shields, a spokesman for the department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, who was the driver of a police van that carried Gray through the streets of Baltimore, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two vehicular manslaughter charges and misconduct in office. A man who answered the phone at Goodson's home declined to comment and hung up the phone.
The rest are charged with, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office, and false imprisonment in various combinations.

I would have liked to seen obstruction of justice added, because, given the circumstances, that charge would be pretty clearly guaranteed conviction.

The big picture, of course,  is that sort of stuff happens every day, because random arrests of black people, and brutality against them, along with the inevitable revenue generation.  (Properties don't seize themselves.)

It is incredibly rare for a police officer to be investigated, much less charged.

Interestingly enough, the charge of murder is based on the rather interestingly named "depraved heart murder":
The term "depraved heart" means something more than conduct amounting to a high or unreasonable risk to human life. The perpetrator must realize the risk his behavior has created to the extent that his conduct may be termed willful. Moreover, the conduct must contain an element of viciousness or contemptuous disregard for the value of human life which conduct characterizes that behavior as wanton.
But, as I said before, for each of these 6 police officers, there are tens, if not hundreds, of other cops who have done the same thing, albeit it probably did not result in a death, or massive protests and riots.


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