Freddie Gray Cops Rebuked by Fourth Circuit

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By Alisa Johnson

Baltimore police officers who were criminally charged and later cleared in the death of Freddie Gray “must accept that they are subject to the same laws as every other defendant who has been prosecuted and acquitted,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit said May 7.

The court tossed out their federal civil rights claims against the prosecutor.

Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby, who investigated the incident and brought the charges against the officers, is immune from claims of malicious prosecution, defamation, and false light invasion of privacy, the court said in an opinion by Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory.

Officers Edward Michael Nero, Garrett Edward Miller, Brian Scott Rice, William Porter, and Alicia White asked the court to “depart from well-settled law so that they can force Mosby to defend her decision to seek justice on behalf of Freddie Gray,” the court said.

Their arguments are “both meritless and disconcerting,” it added.

‘Borders on Absurd’

Their “contention that Mosby acted outside the scope of her employment by telling the public that she would pursue justice borders on absurd,” it added.

Rejecting the officers’ claim that Mosby used their arrests “for her own personal interests and political agendas,” the court said that “using the legal system to reach a fair and just resolution to Gray’s death” was Mosby’s duty, “not a political move.”

Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III, concurring, said “the officers here strike at the very heart of the democratic dialogue.”

Freddie Gray Jr. was fatally injured while handcuffed and shackled in the custody of the Baltimore City Police Department. His death, which was ruled a homicide, contributed to a national public outcry regarding police treatment of minorities and prompted riots in Baltimore.

The Maryland Attorney General’s office represented Mosby. Toland Law LLC and Law Office of Brandy A. Peeples, Frederick, Md., represented the officers.

The case is Nero v. Mosby , 2018 BL 160966, 4th Cir., 17-116617-116817-1169, 5/7/18 .

To contact the reporter on this story: Alisa Johnson in Washington at ajohnson@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: C. Reilly Larson at rlarson@bloomberglaw.com

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