Prisoners never got seat-belted before Freddie Gray tragedy
(BALTIMORE – June 16, 2016 – REVISED) – So, amidst all of the legalese being spoken about what’s admissible and what is not, this journalist has a single question about how all of this is coming together.
Was an ambulance called before Freddie Gray was dragged to the police van?
It is a challenging task to watch the news coverage of the Freddie Gray trials. Reporters tell us what is happening inside the courtroom. Caesar Goodson, the Baltimore City Police van driver, is currently on trial with a verdict seconds away.
Of the six officers charged in the tragic death of Gray last year, Goodson faces the most serious charges including depraved heart murder. From a ‘man on the street’ perspective, something seems horribly wrong.
I am a journalist. I do not have the advantage of law school. However, am I to believe my lying eyes? I’m referring to the takedown and arrest of Freddie Gray and how the prosecution has painted this weird picture of what happened. The prosecution claimed they did their own independent investigation, yet things are just not adding up as questions remain.
Many of the folks in the community believe, for example, that Gray was injured during the arrest. So, for such a heavy emphasis to be on the van driver simply seems odd.
But, hey! I’m no lawyer. Common sense may not be important in a legal case because it is all about what one can prove and less about what the actual truth is. For me, part of the truth is that seat-belting prisoners in Baltimore City has never happened before the case of Freddie Gray. For this to even be an issue is mind-boggling.
As a native Baltimorean, I have always found it baffling that three white officers and three black officers were charged: Three whites and three blacks. Was this by design? And again, the van driver, who is black, ends up with the most serious charges? Something seems wrong! Conveniently having this racial equity in defendants seemed more like a political move than a bona fide legal maneuver. For me, this case was laced with the trappings of an insidious institutional racism that dominates the backdrop.
The way it appears thus far is that black people get a victory at the expense of other blacks.
Another question that comes to mind is how they chose the six officers. Should other officers have been charged? Are they charging the right officers? Even more, could Gray’s death had been an accident?
What we do know is that the careers of six officers are hanging in the balance. To boot, nothing is stopping the Feds from stepping in and bringing federal charges in the case of Gray’s untimely death, one that led to the first riots in Baltimore since the 60s.
I guess a bright side is that the abuse of black and poor people by Baltimore City Police is finally under scrutiny. And to that end, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has indeed helped Lady Justice correct her vision.
Understand that Gray is one of many blacks who have died while in Baltimore City Police custody. Tyrone West is another. Every Wednesday, West’s family hosts a protest to continue to shed light on a system that repeatedly affords cops the chance to walk away without charge after doing deadly harm to black men like West. Anthony Anderson was also killed while in police custody. These and other cases, like the death of my nephew-in-law, Dale Graham, saturate our psyche all the time. He was shot and killed by police several years ago but his mother, Darlene Cain, insists on keeping the fight for justice alive. Her activism – and that of her comrade moms who have suffered the deaths of their sons – has gone national, from the White House to L.A.
Before I proceed, let me just state that not all cops are bad … …. and neither are all black people.
At the same time though, we live in a nation that specializes in incarcerating people, especially those of the darker hue. As a matter of fact, this country has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. We are %5 of the world population but we have 25% of the world’s inmates. Of those numbers, black men comprise 44% of the prisoners in America and black women are the fastest growing demographic. Something is fundamentally wrong.
To say the least, this country has never been kind to black people – something a lot of white people have yet to understand. But, I digress.
At present, Officer Goodson’s future is hanging in the balance. My only concern is that the right people are being charged with the right crimes. Further, while Mosby’s office has done well to bring a light to police abuse of citizens, what the black community does not need is the wrong people going to prison.
My fundamental issue with the Freddie Gray case is that I saw the video and the video showed white officers taking Gray to the van. One of those officers was an EMT. With this in mind, I want to know if anybody called an ambulance because common sense suggests to me that Gray should have never seen the inside of a paddy wagon … at all.