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Baltimore Prosecutor Charges Six Police Officers, Calls Freddie Gray’s Death a "Homicide" Friday, May 1, 2015

Author: Marilyn Mosby, the state's attorney for Baltimore City

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Watch full press conference by Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby when she announced charges against six police officers, including one with murder, in the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old African-American man who was arrested and suffered a fatal neck injury while riding in a moving police van.

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"To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America," Mosby said, "I heard your call for 'no justice, no peace.'"

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Mosby said the officers failed to provide medical attention to Gray even though he asked for help on at least two occasions.

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"Mr. Gray suffered a critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside the BPD wagon," Mosby said.

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Caesar Goodson, the officer who was driving the van, is charged with murder and involuntary manslaughter. Three others are also charged with involuntary manslaughter: Sgt. Alicia D. White, Officer William G. Porter and Lt. Brian Rice. All six are facing lesser charges as well, including Officer Edward M. Nero and Officer Garrett E. Miller.

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland hailed the decision to charge the officers. "We know that today’s announcement is only a first step in a state that has historically prosecuted less than two percent of police-involved deaths, while prosecuting thousands of African-Americans for petty offenses," said Susan Goering, executive director of theACLU of Maryland. "Our systems of justice have been far more willing to treat officers as innocent until proven guilty than they are the communities who are being policed—communities where people are presumed guilty and stopped, searched, and arrested without cause."

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Full Coverage of Freddie Gray’s Death From Democracy Now!

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TRANSCRIPT

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MARILYN MOSBY: Good morning. First and foremost, I need to express publicly my deepest sympathies for the family of the loved ones of Mr. Freddie Gray. I had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Gray’s family to discuss some of the details of the case and the procedural steps going forward. I assured his family that no one is above the law and that I would pursue justice on their behalf.

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To the thousands of city residents, community organizers, faith leaders and political leaders that chose to march peacefully throughout Baltimore, I commend your courage to stand for justice. I also commend the brave men and women, both in uniform and out, who have stepped up Monday night to protect our communities from those who wish to destroy it.

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As the city’s chief prosecutor, I’ve been sworn to uphold justice and to treat every individual within the jurisdiction of Baltimore City equally and fairly under the law. I take this oath seriously, and I want the public to know that my administration is committed to creating a fair and equitable justice system for all, no matter what your occupation, your age, your race, your color or your creed. It is my job to examine and investigate the evidence of each case and apply those facts to the elements of a crime in order to make a determination as to whether individuals should be prosecuted. This is a tremendous responsibility, but one that I sought and accepted when the citizens of Baltimore City elected me as the state’s attorney. And it’s precisely what I did in the case of Freddie Gray.

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Once alerted about this incident on April 13th, investigators from my police integrity unit were deployed to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr. Gray’s apprehension. Over the course of our independent investigation in the untimely death of Mr. Gray, my team worked around the clock, 12- and 14-hour days, to canvas and interview dozens of witnesses, view numerous hours of video footage, repeatedly reviewed and listened to hours of police videotaped statements, surveyed the route, reviewed voluminous medical records, and we leveraged the information made available to us by the police department, the community and the family of Mr. Gray.

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The findings of our comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiner’s determination that Mr. Gray’s death was a homicide, which we received today, has led us to believe that we have probable cause to file criminal charges.

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The statement of probable cause is as follows: On April 12, 2015, between 8:45 and 9:15 a.m., near the corner of North Avenue and Mount Street, Lieutenant Brian Rice of the Baltimore Police Department, while on bike patrol with Officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero, made eye contact with Mr. Freddie Carlos Gray Jr. Having made eye contact with Mr. Gray, Mr. Gray subsequently ran from Lieutenant Rice. Lieutenant Rice then dispatched over departmental radio that he was involved in a foot pursuit, at which time bike patrol officers and Nero—Officers Miller and Nero also began to pursue Mr. Gray.

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Having come in contact with the pursuing officers, Mr. Gray surrendered to Officers Miller and Nero in the vicinity in the 1700 block of Presbury Street. Officers Miller and Nero then handcuffed Mr. Gray and moved him to a location a few feet away from his surrendering location. 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.

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Officers Miller and Nero then placed Mr. Gray in a seated position and subsequently found a knife clipped to the inside of his pants pocket. The blade of the knife was folded into the handle. The knife was not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland law. These officers subsequently removed the knife and placed it on the sidewalk.

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Mr. Gray was then placed back down on his stomach, at which time Mr. Gray began to flail his legs and scream as Officer Miller placed Mr. Gray in a restraining technique known as a leg lace, while Officer Nero physically held him down against his will until aBPD wagon arrived to transport Mr. Gray.

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Lieutenant Rice, Officer Miller and Officer Nero failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray’s arrest, as no crime had been committed by Mr. Gray. Accordingly, Lieutenant Rice, Officer Miller and Officer Nero illegally arrested Mr. Gray.

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Upon arrival of the transport wagon, driven by Officer Caesar Goodson, Lieutenant Rice, Officer Nero and Officer Miller loaded Mr. Gray into the wagon, and at no point was he secured by a seatbelt while in the wagon, contrary to a BPD general order. Lieutenant Rice then directed BPD wagon to stop at Baker Street. At Baker Street, Lieutenant Rice, Officer Nero and Officer Miller removed Mr. Gray from the wagon, placed flex-cuffs on his wrists, placed leg shackles on his ankles, and completed required paperwork. Officer Miller, Officer Nero and Lieutenant Rice then loaded Mr. Gray back into the wagon, placing him on his stomach, head first, onto the floor of the wagon. Once again, Mr. Gray was not secured by a seatbelt in the wagon, contrary to a BPD general order.

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Lieutenant Rice then directed Officer Goodson to transport Mr. Gray to the Central Booking & Intake Facility. Following transport from Baker Street, 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. From Baker Street, Officer Goodson proceeded to the vicinity of Mosher Street and Fremont Avenue, where he subsequently parked the wagon and proceeded to the back of the wagon in order to observe Mr. Gray. Despite stopping for the purpose of checking on Mr. Gray’s condition, at no point did he seek nor did he render any medical assistance for Mr. Gray. Officer Goodson returned to his driver’s seat and proceeded toward the Central Booking & Intake Facility with Mr. Gray still unsecured by a seatbelt, contrary to a BPD general order.

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Several blocks later, Officer Goodson called into dispatch that he needed to check on the status of his prisoner, and requested additional units at Dolphin Street and Druid Hill Avenue. Officer William Porter arrived on the scene near Dolphin Street and Druid Hill Avenue. Both Officer Goodson and Officer Porter proceeded to the back of the wagon to check on the status of Mr. Gray’s condition. 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. Officer Porter then physically assisted Mr. Gray from the floor of the van to the bench; however, despite Mr. Gray’s appeal for a medic, both officers assessed Mr. Gray’s condition, and at no point did either of them restrain Mr. Gray per BPD general order, nor did they render or request medical assistance.

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While discussing the transportation of Mr. Gray for medical attention, a request for additional units was made for an arrest at the 1600 West North Avenue. Officer Porter left the vicinity of Dolphin Street and Druid Hill Avenue to assist in the arrest of another prisoner at North Avenue. Despite Mr. Gray’s obvious and recognized need for medical assistance, Officer Goodson, in a grossly negligent manner, chose to respond to the 1600 block of West North Avenue with Mr. Gray still unsecured by a seatbelt in the wagon, without rendering to or summonsing medical assistance for Mr. Gray.

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Officer Goodson arrived at North Avenue to transport the individual arrested at the location of North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, at which time he was again met by Officer Nero, Miller, Porter and Lieutenant Rice. Once the wagon arrived, Officer Goodson walked to the back of the wagon and again opened the doors to the wagon to make observations of Mr. Gray. Sergeant Alicia White, Officer Porter and Officer Goodson observed Mr. Gray unresponsive on the floor of the wagon. Sergeant White, who was responsible for investigating two citizen complaints pertaining to Mr. Gray’s illegal arrest, spoke to the back of Mr. Gray’s head. When he did not respond, she did nothing further, despite the fact that she was advised that he needed a medic. She made no effort to look or assess or determine his condition. Despite Mr. Gray’s seriously deteriorating medical condition, no medical assistance was rendered or summonsed for Mr. Gray at that time by any officer.

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After completing the North Avenue arrest and loading the additional prisoner into the opposite side of the wagon containing Mr. Gray, Officer Goodson then proceeded to the Western District police station, where, contrary to the BPD general order, he again failed to restrain Mr. Gray in the wagon for at least the fifth time. At the Western District police station, the defendant arrested at North Avenue was unloaded, escorted and secured inside of the police station prior to attending to Mr. Gray.

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By the time Officer Zachary Novak, Sergeant White and an unknown officer attempted to remove Mr. Gray from the wagon, Mr. Gray was no longer breathing at all. A medic was finally called to the scene, where, upon arrival, the medic determined that Mr. Gray was now in cardiac arrest and was critically and severely injured.

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Mr. Gray was rushed to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma, where he underwent surgery. On April 19, 2015, Mr. Gray succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead. The manner of death, deemed a homicide by the Maryland State Medical Examiner, is believed to be the result of a fatal injury that occurred while Mr. Gray was unrestrained by a seatbelt in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department wagon. All events occurred in Baltimore City, state of Maryland.

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While each of these officers are presumed innocent until proven guilty, we have brought the following charges:

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Officer Caesar Goodson is being charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree negligent assault, manslaughter by vehicle by means of gross negligence, manslaughter by vehicle by means of criminal negligence, misconduct in office for failure to secure a prisoner, failure to render aid.

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Officer William Porter is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault in the second degree, misconduct in office.

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Lieutenant Brian Rice is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault in the second degree, assault in the second degree, misconduct in office, false imprisonment.

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Officer Edward Nero is being charged with assault in the second degree, intentional; assault in the second degree, negligent; misconduct in office; false imprisonment.

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Officer Garrett Miller is being charged with intentional assault in the second degree; assault in the second degree, negligent; misconduct in office; and false imprisonment.

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Sergeant Alicia White is being charged with manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office.

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While I am committed to transparency, what I have revealed here today is now a matter of public record; however, the evidence that we have collected and continue to collect cannot ethically be released to the public. And I strongly condemn anyone in law enforcement with access to trial evidence who has leaked information prior to the resolution of this case. You are are only damaging our ability to conduct a fair and impartial process for all parties involved. I hope that as we move forward with this case, everyone will respect due process and refrain from doing anything that will jeopardize our ability to seek justice.

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To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for "no justice, no peace." Your peace is sincerely needed, as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man. To those that are angry, hurt or have their own experiences of injustice at the hands of police officers, I urge you to channel the energy peacefully as we prosecute this case. I have heard your calls for "no justice, no peace"; however, your peace is sincerely needed, as I work to deliver justice on behalf of Freddie Gray.

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To the rank-and-file officers of the Baltimore City Police Department, please know that these accusations of these six officers are not an indictment on the entire force. I come from five generations of law enforcement. My father was an officer. My mother was an officer, several of my aunts and uncles. My recently departed and beloved grandfather was one of the founding members of the first black police organization in Massachusetts. I can tell you that the actions of these officers will not and should not, in any way, damage the important working relationships between police and prosecutors as we continue to fight together to reduce crime in Baltimore. Thank you for your courage, commitment and sacrifice for the betterment of our communities.

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Lastly, I’d like to thank my team for working around the clock since the day that we learned of this tragic incident. We have conducted a thorough and independent investigation of this case. This independent investigation was led by my deputy state’s attorney, Janice Bledsoe and Michael Schatzow; my investigators, Wayne Williams, Avon Mackal; and the hard-working investigative team that were here and still are very much committed to pursuing justice.

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I would also like to thank the Baltimore City Police Department, particularly Major Brandford of the homicide unit and Rodney Hill of the internal affairs division, for providing us with a hard copy of their investigative materials yesterday, information that we already had. And lastly, I would like to thank Baltimore City Sheriff Department in assisting us with this investigation as an independent law enforcement agency with police powers.

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To the governor of this great state of Maryland, thank you for expediting the autopsy report, which enabled us to do our job.

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Last, but certainly not least, to the youth of this city, I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a moment. This is your moment. Let’s ensure that we have peaceful and productive rallies that will develop structural and systemic changes for generations to come. You’re at the forefront of this cause. And as young people, our time is now.

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I’m going to take a few questions.

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REPORTER: How much of the police investigation, that was delivered to you yesterday, factored into your decision to go forward with these charges? And how much of it was strictly your independent state’s attorney investigation?

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MARILYN MOSBY: What I can tell you is that we’ve been working with the police department from day one. And from day one, I also sent my own investigators to the scene. So we’ve been leveraging, and we’ve been being briefed on what’s been going on with the police department. So what we received from the police department yesterday, we already had. I can tell you that we independently verified those facts and everything that we’ve received from the police department. So it’s a culmination of the independent investigation that we conducted, as well as the information that we received from the police department.

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REPORTER: And did the officers—were they cooperative with your investigation?

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MARILYN MOSBY: Yes.

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REPORTER: All six?

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MARILYN MOSBY: No. They gave a statement. And I can’t get too far into the facts of this case. I can’t—I can’t answer that.

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REPORTER: Mrs. Mosby, have all—have they been—how many officers have been arrested? And are they in custody right now?

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MARILYN MOSBY: A warrant has been issued for their arrest.

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REPORTER: Have any of them been taken into custody?

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MARILYN MOSBY: I can’t tell you that at this point. I know that a warrant has been issued. We filed the statement of charges this morning at about 9:30, 10:00 this morning.

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REPORTER: Can you talk about the significance of this happening in an expeditious way, thorough, but expeditious, given what we’ve witnessed this week? In the course of one week, we’ve gone from riots to, in your eyes, the accomplishment of some justice.

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MARILYN MOSBY: Well, what I can say is that from the beginning, we knew that this was a serious case. We’ve been working independently. And I can tell you that we put all of our resources to make sure that we were pursuing and leading where the facts took us in this case, which was to pursue justice.

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REPORTER: Ms. Mosby, the FOP has asked for you to appoint a special prosecutor because of your post prior to the city police department. Do you care to respond to that?

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MARILYN MOSBY: I can tell you that the people of Baltimore City elected me, and there’s no accountability with a special prosecutor. I can tell you that from day one, we independently investigated. We’re not just relying solely upon what we were given from the police department, period.

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REPORTER: Excuse me. Excuse me. Do you think that race was a factor in his arrest?

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MARILYN MOSBY: I can’t tell you that. I can’t give you my opinion.

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REPORTER: Your husband, Councilman Mosby, has spoken a lot about the riots, and he’s said that some of the protesters have a point, that they’re onto something. Are you worried about the appearance of any conflict of interest?

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MARILYN MOSBY: I don’t see an appearance of conflict of interest. My husband is a public servant. He works on the legislative side. I am a prosecutor. I am also a public servant. I uphold the law. He makes the laws. And I will prosecute any case within my jurisdiction.

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REPORTER: Are you [inaudible] of one another?

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MARILYN MOSBY: I can’t answer that question.

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REPORTER: Can you tell us about the independent investigators that assisted you in this case and why you brought them in?

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MARILYN MOSBY: I thought it was very important to have an independent analysis as to what took place and transpired from the very beginning. We are independent agencies from the police department.

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REPORTER: Ms. Mosby, what do you think needs to be done to make sure what happened to Freddie Gray doesn’t happen again?

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MARILYN MOSBY: Accountability.

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REPORTER: How are we going to get that?

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MARILYN MOSBY: You’re getting it today.

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REPORTER: How do you make sure that this is systematic? The system has failed for so long.

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REPORTER: Can you talk about the resources your office had independently of the police department to pursue this case?

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MARILYN MOSBY: I can tell you, as I stated, we had a number of investigators. You can see it’s been an all-hands-on approach from the very beginning. So I sent my investigators out to the scene. We have a number of them who are right here. We have our work in collaboration and working with the Baltimore Sheriff’s Department, who has police powers, and again, independent from the Baltimore City Police Department. So, yes, we have leveraged the police investigation, but at no point did we compromise our own independent investigation into this case.

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REPORTER: Do you think that it’s important to change the bill of rights that police have right now, where they have the 10 days to not talk to anybody until something the community has wrote up?

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MARILYN MOSBY: I can’t give you my opinion on that.

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REPORTER: Commissioner Batts isn’t standing with you. What’s his reaction to this?

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MARILYN MOSBY: You would have to ask Commissioner Batts.

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REPORTER: Have you spoken [inaudible]?

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MARILYN MOSBY: I have spoken with Commissioner Batts. I’ve spoken with the mayor. I’ve spoken with the governor, yes.

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REPORTER: Did you invite them to stand with you today?

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MARILYN MOSBY: I spoke with the governor. I’ve spoke with the commissioner. You’d have to ask him.

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REPORTER: Can you tell us any more about the officers’ background? Have you had any previous complaints of abuse or anything like that?

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MARILYN MOSBY: I can’t do that. All that again, we have to be mindful that this is still an ongoing investigation, and I can’t—I have to be mindful of what can come out at this point. Thank you.

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DMU Timestamp: April 29, 2015 20:40

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