FOP: Gray Charges Driven by ‘Publicity,’ Officers ‘Did Nothing Wrong’

Michael Davey, an Attorney with the Fraternal Order of Police declared, “these officers did nothing wrong” and that charges brought against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray are driven by “the publicity in this case” and “politics” at a press conference on Friday.

Baltimore FOP President Gene Ryan began the press conference by saying, “we are disappointed in the apparent rush to judgement, given the fact the investigation into this matter has not been concluded. Our officers, like every other American citizen, are entitled to due process. We will continue to support them throughout this judicial process, which we believe will result in a finding of innocence. We also promise all active duty officers that we will continue to work diligently to ensure that you will receive the necessary support from the FOP to enable you to complete your mission safely.” He also argued that “this decision to charge [these] officers is going to make our job even harder.”

Davey then stated, “in my 20 years — career as a law enforcement officer, and 16 years as an attorney, I have never seen such a hurried rush to file criminal charges, which I believe are driven by forces which are separate and apart from the application of law, and the facts of this case as we know them. No one condones police misconduct. This is especially true of the entire FOP membership, including my client, who was a 17-year veteran of this department, who has dedicated his life to serving the public. Let me state in no uncertain terms that Lt. Rice and all of the officers involved at all times acted reasonably, and in accordance with their training as Baltimore police officers. No officer injured Mr. Gray, caused harm to Mr. Gray, and they are truly saddened by his death. These officers did nothing wrong. As all of the facts surrounding this case come out in the appropriate forum, the officers’ lack of wrongdoing will be made abundantly clear. We believe that the actions taken today by the state’s attorney are an egregious rush to judgment, and we have grave concerns about the fairness [and] integrity of the prosecution of our officers. Let me reiterate two things, Lt. Rice and all of the officers are deeply affected by Mr. Gray’s passing, and that his injuries did not occur as a result of any action or inaction on the part of these officers. It is our intention to try this case in the courtroom, and not the media. These statements have been made in an effort to protect all of the officers from undue prejudicial effective publicity surrounding this case. We believe that these officers will be vindicated, as they have done nothing wrong.” Later, he said, “I can’t speculate as to what they did or didn’t do. I just find it very difficult that it’s not a rush to judgement when conducting a case in which someone has been charged with second degree murder they can wrap it up in two weeks.”

Towards the end of the press conference Davey stated that “politics” “that’s what getting us, I believe, here today.” “I believe that the publicity in this case is driving force to a rush to judgment, and causing this prosecution to move so quickly.”

During the question and answer period of the press conference, Davey conceded that there could have been a “failure in the policy.”

Lt. Kenneth Butler of the Baltimore police and President of the Vanguard Justice Society, added, “we are extremely frustrated and shocked by the circumstances that have transpired today. As Baltimore police officers, we are not at odds with the community. Let me repeat that. We are not at odds with the community. In fact, we are sworn to protect the community and those who are protesting against the six officers involved in this case. Our organization has supported these officers since the beginning of this difficult situation, and we will continue to do so.”

Davey was also asked about earlier comments he made that, “had he [Gray] not had a knife or an illegal weapon on him, he would have been released after the proper paperwork was done,” in light of prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s statement that the knife Gray was carrying when he arrested was “lawful under Maryland law.” Davey stated, “I have not seen the knife, and that determination will be made by a judge and a jury…as to whether there was probable cause to make that arrest.” He added that he doesn’t believe his statement was “premature” because it was “based on information that I knew then, and I know now.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett