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In the wake of prosecutors who seem to have tepid interest in charging police officers for shooting unarmed black men, Marilyn Mosby, the State's Attorney for the City of Baltimore, is a breath of fresh air. Last week, she announced criminal charges against six police officers allegedly involved in the death of Freddie Gray, who was arrested and placed in a police van, then emerged half an hour later with a severed spine.
The police officers have been charged with crimes ranging from assault to second degree murder. Who is the lawyer who's willing to take on the police?
She's actually the perfect person to bring these charges. Mosby, a graduate of Tuskegee University and Boston College Law School, is fairly well insulated from charges that she's inherently anti-police. Both her mother and father were police officers -- as well as many of her relatives, including her grandfather. She told Baltimore magazine in 2014 that her grandfather "was one of the founding members of the black police organization in Massachusetts."
Mosby has consistently been in favor of police accountability; during her run for State's Attorney (an elected position), she said, "Police brutality is completely inexcusable. I'm going to apply justice fairly, even to those who wear a badge."
When she began her job as State's Attorney, she made police best practices a priority and traveled to several cities (including San Francisco) to learn how local DAs operated. She also wanted to create an intervention program for non-violent felony offenders. "We know what happens when these individuals get these felony convictions," she told Baltimore magazine. "They can no longer apply for jobs, they can no longer apply for housing, and they can't really get any sort of financial aid, so what other alternative do they have than to go back out on the street doing what they were doing before?"
Police Demand Recusal
Her tough stance on police brutality, however, hasn't exactly endeared her to the Baltimore Police Department, which has demanded she recuse herself due to "conflicts of interest," many of which stem from her husband, Baltimore city councilman Nick Mosby, who represents the district where Freddie Gray was arrested. The officers claim that he stands to benefit if the officers are convicted, The Guardian reported Friday.
Immediately after she announced the charges on May 1, the local president of the Fraternal Order of Police called for the appointment of a special prosecutor, citing some of the same conflicts of interest, as well as a donation Freddie Gray's family's attorney made to her election.
Mosby has countered that there are no conflicts of interest, and that police unions donated money to other candidates in the election.