The president of the Baltimore police union called on Friday for Maryland’s state attorney to recuse herself from the case against six Baltimore Police Department officers, who face criminal charges for the death of Freddie Gray.
In a letter, Gene Ryan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 3, defended the officers involved in Gray’s death, who were themselves arrested on Friday and indicted on charges ranging from false imprisonment to second-degree murder.
“Not one of the officers involved in this tragic situation left home in the morning with the anticipation that someone with whom they interacted would not go home that night,” Ryan’s letter said. “As tragic as this situation is, none of the officers involved are responsible for the death of Mr. Gray.”
Ryan, who faced criticism on Sunday after likening protests in Baltimore to a “lynch mob,” also called for a “special independent prosecutor” in the case against the BDP officers, accusing the state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby of having “many conflicts of interest.”
“These conflicts include your personal and professional relations with Gray family attorney, William Murphy, and the lead prosecutor’s connections with members of the local media,” Ryan said. “Based on several nationally televised interviews, these reporters are likely to be witnesses in any potential litigation regarding this incident.”
Murphy donated $5,000 to Mosby’s campaign last year and served on her transition committee, the Baltimore Sun reported. In a statement, Mosby denied any conflict and noted that the police union has also donated to the campaigns of state’s attorneys in the past.
“State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has been elected by the residents in Baltimore City to uphold the law in every neighborhood including her own, regardless of if her husband is the councilman within the district where numerous crimes occur,” spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie told the Sun. “Hundreds of people donated to her campaign. There is no conflict of interest surrounding Billy Murphy.”
Ritchie added that Murphy is representing the Gray family in a civil matter, which has nothing to do with the criminal charges brought by Mosby’s office.
Mosby announced the charges against the Baltimore police officers at a press conference on Friday. “Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside the BPD wagon,” she said.
Her office’s investigation found that the officers repeatedly denied Gray medical attention, both when asked for it, and later when he was discovered unresponsive. Her office also determined that Gray’s arrest was illegal, in fact, as the officers had no probable cause.
A policy requiring officers to seatbelt prisoners in the back of transport vehicles was put into place shortly before Gray’s death. Ryan told the Washington Post earlier this week that police officers weren’t reading the new policies because they believed the changes were simply cosmetic.
Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, the driver of the police van in which Gray’s injuries occurred, faces up to 63 years in prison if convicted on all charges. The other five officers, Lt. Brian Rice, 41; Sgt. Alicia White, 30; Officer Edward Nero, 29; Officer Garrett Miller, 26; and Officer William Porter, 25, face between 20 and 30 years in prison if convicted on all charges.