Freddie Gray ‘conflicts of interest’: Baltimore police union calls for prosecutor to step aside

Residents, surrounded by marchers, celebrate from atop their vehicle in west Baltimore, Maryland May 1, 2015. (Reuters/Adrees Latif)
The Baltimore police union asked State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby to appoint a special prosecutor to take over the case against the six officers involved in the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray. Mosby refused.

On Friday morning, shortly before Mosby was scheduled to hold a press conference, the president of Baltimore’s lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the union that represents the six officers, issued an open letter to the state’s attorney, asking her to appoint a “special independent prosecutor” for the case.

“In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety or a violation of the Professional Rules of Professional Responsibility, I ask that you appoint a Special Prosecutor to determine whether or not any charges should be filed,” FOP President Gene Ryan wrote.

READ MORE: Freddie Gray's death ruled 'homicide', charges against all 6 officers involved

The open letter was shared on social media at 10:30am ET, half an hour to an hour after Mosby filed charges against the six officers. Speaking to reporters from the steps of the War Memorial Building after, she refused to hand off her duties to an independent outsider.

“I can tell you that the people of Baltimore City elected me, and there’s no accountability with a special prosecutor,” Mosby said. “I can tell you that, from day one, we independently investigated ‒ we’re not just relying solely on what we were given from the police department. Period.”

Ryan called into question Mosby’s ability to maintain impartiality in the face potential conflicts of interest.

“I have full faith in your professional integrity,” Ryan wrote. “While I have the utmost respect for you and your office, I have very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest presented by your office conducting an investigation in this case.”

“These conflicts include your personal and professional relationship with Gray family attorney, William Murphy and the lead prosecutor’s connections with members of the local media … [who] are likely to be witnesses in any potential litigation regarding this incident,” Ryan continued. “Most importantly, it is clear that your husband’s political future will be directly impacted, for better or worse, by the outcome of your investigation.”

Mosby’s husband is a member of the Baltimore City Council. She flatly denied any conflict of interest between her job and that of her husband’s.

“I don’t see an appearance of conflict of interest. My husband is a public servant. He works on the legislative; I am a prosecutor, I am also a public servant,” Mosby told reporters. “I uphold the law; he makes the laws. And I will prosecute any case within my jurisdiction.”


Baltimore residents knew of her husband’s political position when she was elected in November, Mosby’s office noted.

“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,” said spokeswoman Rochelle Ritchie. “Hundreds of people donated to her campaign. There is no conflict of interest surrounding Billy Murphy. He is representing the family in a civil case which has nothing to do with the criminal case.”

After Mosby announced that she was bringing charges against all six officers ‒ including second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, assault, manslaughter by vehicle, false imprisonment, misconduct in office, and failure to render aid ‒ the FOP condemned the decision.

“Let me begin by stating how appalled and frustrated we are this morning at the events and information announced by the state’s attorney,” Ryan told reporters Friday afternoon. “We are disappointed in the apparent rush to judgment given the fact the investigation into this matter has not been concluded.”

Michael Davey, the attorney for Lieutenant Brian Rice, spoke on behalf of all of the defendants in the Gray case. He lambasted Mosby for allowing publicity to force her into pressing charges.

“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,” Davey said.

“I just find it very difficult [to believe] that it’s not a rush to judgment when conducting a case in which someone has been charged with second-degree murder, they can wrap it up in two weeks,” he added.

By Friday afternoon, all six police officers had turned themselves in. Bail was set between $250,000 and $350,000 each, according to court documents.