tv MSNBC Live MSNBC May 23, 2016 8:00am-9:01am PDT
good morning, everyone. we are starting off this hour with some breaking news out of baltimore. we begin with a judge and his decision now handing out the verdict in one of the cases against the baltimore police officers charged in the death of freddie gray. officer edward nero has now been found not guilty of assault, conduct and reckless endangerment. officer nero charged in the death of 25-year-old freddie gray who died in april of last year, setting off a series of protests in that city. let's go straight to our reporter on the ground there, nbc's ron mott. he joins us live from the courthouse in baltimore. ron, the judge now just handing down this verdict of not guilty in this case. the officer and his attorneys choosing to not have a jury hear this case. what's the very latest from the ground there? >> reporter: hey there, tamron. a lot of folks are going to say this is not particularly
surprising because a lot of people thought of the six officers who were charged in this case that the case against officer nero was probably the weakest from the state's point of view. he had very limited physical contact with freddie gray, his attorneys argued last week in court, just about a minute and a half or so. he touched him to retrieve an inhaler that freddie gray said he needed after he was detained and arrested. the state argued all along, everything that followed after that point was invalid and illegal because the state contended that was an illegal detention, that the police officers hadn't properly established probable cause for chasing him and detaining him and ultimately arresting him. of course he was placed into that van. he was strapped -- tethered to the legs but was not strapped in by a seat belt. ended up breaking his neck and died a week later and that touched out of riots across this city the days after freddie gray passed away. in the days leading up to this announcement this morning, maryland congressman elijah cummings is asking people to
respect the verdict and remain calm. we do hear helicopters overhead. there was a small group of maybe a dozen people out in front of the courthouse today. we'll have to see over the next few minutes or hours if people start to stream downtown here or go to that area of baltimore that saw most of that unrest here a year ago april. but again, he is not guilty on all cases. a lot of the analysts, tamron, will say this is sort of a playbook, if you will, for the five cases now to come. he opted for a bench trial versus a jury trial. officer william porter, who was tried at the end of last year, that jury deadlocked and so there was a mistrial declared. he will be back on trial sometime in september. so now we've got five more cases to go. one other interesting thing, officer porter, who was the first officer who was set to trial, he is going to testify presumably against his fellow officers. the last few months the state and his attorneys have been arguing about whether the state can compel him to testify against these other officers because the state believes he's a strong witness for the state.
tamron. >> in officer porter's trial, his manslaughter trial ended back in december with a hung jury, as you pointed out. he's got this retrial set for september 6. going back to this verdict today, as you've noted to many legal observers, this may not be a huge surprise, but this goes back to, ron, the decision made by the state's attorney, the state, to charge all of these officers who had varying degrees of interaction following the arrest and the events that led up to the death of mr. scott. but just looking at what the prosecution said, they're saying that nero did not have probable cause to arrest mr. gray and failed to put a seat belt on that shackled him in the police transport van. that's the role they allege that he played in this case of freddie gray's death. the defense attorney tried, as you also noted, to minimize nero's role in the arrest. they said, for example, that he
did not touch gray. that he touched him only once and that the defense argued that the officer followed his training. so this goes back again, ron, to the very beginning. the very was whether or not all of these officers should be charged. at the time the state stood by its decision, as controversial as it appeared. >> well, there were a lot of people who when these charges were announced thought that the state overreached by charging all of these officers and some with some very serious offenses. the four counts against officer nero were all misdemeanors, including that second-degree assault charge which carried up to ten years in prison. the question is, who had the chain of custody? who was most responsible for freddie gray's safety in that police van? he was not strapped in. if you talk to a lot of policemen and policewomen around the country, that has generally been the case probably before this case. maybe there will be some changes across the country and law enforcement in how they handle the transfer of prisoners, but he was not strapped in and he went on that ride and of course
suffered those severe injuries. officers have some leeway, some legal protection to do the job of police work, which includes detaining people, arresting them in cases where probable cause can be established. the state argued that there was no probable cause ever established here and so that everything that happened to freddie gray was in effect illegal and exposed these officers to criminal liability, tamron. >> and also at the time, ron, and we've talked a lot about this, the idea of not strapping in mr. gray and taking him on this ride deliberately -- no, k accelerating and braking, that was how she sustained some of those injuries. this is the video many of our audience have seen time and again, the initial arrest of freddie gray. then he is put in the back of this patrol wagon here and what happened after that led us to where we are right now with six officers ultimately charged in his death.
now you've got a hung jury and another officer in this case now found not guilty. but going back to these charges, ron, and it seems as if the state, the prosecution will have to come out now and explain why they pursued this avenue, with the possibility of, again, a not guilty verdict here and a hung jury on the first one with a retrial coming up. >> well, this is clearly a blow to the state, tamron, because now the other five teams, legal teams that are preparing to defend their clients now see what they might consider a successful playbook, which is rather than opt for a jury trial, get a bench trial with judge williams because now you can see what he at least thinks about this particular officer's role in this case. some people will say that this officer, again, was the least culpable, if you will, of all the six who were charged. and the spotlight really is on the driver of the van, officer goodson.
he was set to be the second officer to take trial, his trial was delayed until next month because of some of the legal battles i mentioned earlier between officer porter and the state about whether officer porter could be compelled to testify against the others. but a lot of people who follow law enforcement around the country thought this was a dramatic overreach by the state to charge so many officers in connection with freddie gray's case and his ultimate death and a lot of people think that the one who perhaps if anyone is culpable is officer goodson, who was, i talked to a retired officer a moment ago who spent a lot of time in the baltimore police department, who said that the wagon man, his term, is responsible for the transport of the prisoner. that would be officer goodson in this case. the three officers who were there at the arrest, including officer nero, officer nero has been absolved of any criminal wrongdoing. the two other officers will have their trials later in the year, tamron. >> going back to the reaction from the people as they hear this verdict, give me an idea,
you've been there talking with folks and anticipated the possibility of a not guilty verdict here, what are they expecting in baltimore? >> reporter: well, i mean i think if everyone is listening to the esteemed congressman, elijah cummings, we will expect some calm here today. obviously there will be some folks who are disappointed and may think this is just the first of many acquittals to come, but there was only a small handful of people out front of the courthouse to hear these verdicts. a different scene than we saw back in december when officer porter, the first person to take the stand -- or to go to trial, i could say, there were many more people here, a lot more active outside the courtroom. the entrance to the courthouse is back on calvert street so i believe we might have a shot down that street with one of our different crews, but it's a much different atmosphere here, tamron. i don't suspect that we will see trouble because i think a lot of people thought as they have followed this case reading the local media reports, that this officer was of minimal
involvement in this arrest of freddie dpra. >> -- freddie gray. let me go to ari melber. ari, the attorney representing officer nero said at the time he and his client discussed the pros and cons of foregoing a jury a million times. they decided in fact to leave his fate in the hands of a judge here. >> right. the reason that is unusual is when you have 12 people trying to make a decision and they need to be unanimous, those are generally pretty good odds. that's why defense counsel usually had aviadvise people to jury trial. this turned more on the law and the facts. basically you had an argument from prosecutors that if the arrest itself was unlawful, right, if there wasn't a reason to arrest freddie gray in the first place, then anything that then happened itself was a crime. that the arrest or the contact incidental to the arrest, the physical contact between the officers and mr. gray on the street, not in the van yet, was itself a criminal act. that's why you have the
second-degree assault charge. i will just say that is unusual because that's not typically how unlawful arrests are dealt with in baltimore or anywhere else. typically the punishment for a totally unlawful arrest would be basically keeping any evidence out of trial of that defendant and/or punishing the officer administratively. that is, oh, you didn't do a good job at work, not criminally, not taking them to court. so everyone saw this legally as a stretch on that count. >> you know, it's interesting that we say everyone saw this legally as a stretch. the prosecution obviously feeling differently. when you just look at, for example, the misconduct or reckless endangerment, we know from the injuries freddie gray was not strapped in, was not seat belted into the back of that patrol van. it would not be his responsibility to strap his own body into the seat there. so wouldn't it be the argument from the prosecution that
someone was responsible, someone may not have directly took his life, but their actions from the false arrest or the arrest without cause to the issue of how you place this individual in the back of that patrol vehicle. >> prosecutors made that argument, but to make it they really had to argue that there was sort of a broader concerted effort here or what legally we would sometimes call a conspiracy. the problem with that with regard to officer nero who we learned was acquitted on all four counts, he wasn't directly physically involved in that. he was involved in the initial contact and the arrest. now again, let's be clear. part of the reason this was so controversial was that according to prosecutors in later documentation, freddie gray was not found to be committing a crime, was not found to have contraband on him. he did have a knife that prosecutors said was legal and that never even came up in this case. so there is plenty wrong with the scene when you have someone who isn't basically having the
behavior to have a lawful arrest and then they are put into a situation where they then die and you have a question who's responsible for that. so i think all of those are very important questions and that is why some of the other cases are seen as stronger because you have the officers directly involved in putting him in the van without a seat belt, which was required under ordinance, and in driving the van in what was often called a rough ride, where it's not transportation, it seems to be using a vehicle, according to prosecutors, as a means to hurt someone when they are in your custody. if you can prove that, that certainly is assault and illegal. but again, with regard to what we're learning right now about officer nero, you have a judge basically saying that he didn't think the prosecutors carried the burden that the nature of the contact over the arrest amounted to a crime. >> and, ari, what we also know is officer nero's partner, garrett miller, testified that he was the person who actually detained gray. the state compelled him, miller, to testify. he's awaiting trial to stand
trial, against nero and he was granted immunity. his testimony cannot be used to incriminate him at his trial. this is something we've talked about from the very beginning. how much of the case against each of these officers will come from their partners and come from other officers who were there. >> and that goes to, a, how factual of people in their statements when they're also obviously trying to put their best foot forward in their own defense, and, b, is there anything above and beyond the testimony here that would underscore the prosecution's theory of the case, that this was deliberate misconduct to hurt someone. i think there has been a thicket of problems regarding the testimony. obviously that has delayed the trials. i do think it's important to understand for folks watching at home that when you have separate trials like this, each one is supposedly separate, which means that officer nero in the eyes of the law may have been found today to be acquitted and other officers who may have been physically or directly involved may not. as for this larger strategic
question that i think people are discussing whether you want a jury or a judge, i think it really depends on the case. i will tell you, we will see, but it would be a more difficult call for the folks who drove the van to avoid a jury trial because there you just need one holdout. >> ari, i've got a statement in from the mayor of bougaltimore saying judge barry g. williams found officer knee row not guilty of all criminal charges. this is our american system of justice and police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in this city, state and country. now that the criminal case has come to an end, officer nero will face an administrative review by the police department. we once again ask the citizens to be patient and to allow the entire process to come to a conclusion. in the case of any disturbance in the city, we are prepared to respond. we will protect our neighborhoods, our businesses and the people of our city. again, that's the mayor of baltimore, stephanie raudwlings
blake. i want to bring in professor lawrence brown from morgan state university in baltimore. professor, we know that you along with many others have been anticipating and waiting for all of these cases to work through the court system. now you have one hung jury in a trial earlier and now a not guilty. your reaction? >> well, you know, you said that the american -- our mayor said that the american criminal justice system, this is what it is for us. but i would say that this system that we have doesn't work for african-americans. there's disproportionality in arrests and then when cops are shooting our children, when they're shooting our people, cops are not punished disproportionately. so i think right now there's a great deal of anxiety and anger that i feel personally, and i believe many others feel, because freddie gray's death was actually a very traumatic experience for many of us.
there's not going to be any justice in these first two trials that we've seen. i think many of us are beginning to doubt that there will be any justice in any of those trials that are to come. >> going back to the mayor's statement, she pointed out as we know police officers must be afforded the same justice system as every other citizen in this case. you bring up the disproportionate number of arrests and deaths of unarmed citizens who in many cases are african-american. you have a judge in this case who's african-american. who oversaw this case, a bench trial, and decided there was not enough evidence here to prove guilt of this officer's role in the death of freddie gray. >> well, you know, two things. number one, the witnesses, the civilian witnesses who saw what happened to freddie gray, they were not allowed to testify at this trial. so you have a trial that doesn't incorporate the witnesses who saw what actually happened. the judge turned off the audio
on the video of looking at what happened to freddie gray. and finally, even in the defense of officer nero, you have an officer or the attorney saying, hey, this was a baby officer after two years on the force. he doesn't know how to buckle a seat belt yet. i just think that's a slap in the face of people here in baltimore who live in a very hypersegregated city, disinvested red line black communities telling us that officers or baby officers don't know how to buckle in a suspect. it's a very dubious, very disappointing decision here today. >> when you look at the situation from the very start with officers going back to april 12th, officers on their bicycles attempted to stop freddie gray and another man. police catch up with mr. gray. they arrest him. but there's never been any proof that there was reasonable cause to pull him over on the bike or to investigate him in the first
place. they found a small knife which was legal for him to carry. and when you look at officer nero's role in this, according to prosecutors, he was part of this initial arrest that should never have happened. there was never probable cause to arrest mr. gray in the first place, which of course set off a series of events which included this trauma to his spine, a broken vertebra, which ultimately resulted in his death. we're watching officer nero, this is -- let me tell our audience what you are seeing here. officer nero being escorted from the courtroom after the not guilty verdict. a judge deciding that there was not enough evidence to convict officer nero. his partner, officer garrett miller, has testified that he was actually the person who detained gray himself, not officer nero. nevertheless, the pollution said nero did not have probable cause to arrest freddie gray and
failed to put a seat belt on a shackled prisoner. we need to not forget the fact that freddie gray was already shackled when he was put into that van. those are the charges officer nero is facing. you see him being escorted into what i'm going to guess is a parking garage so he can leave here. the defense has always said that there was minimal exposure or minimal role in all of this for officer nero. they say that his role in it was neglible. they said he never touched mr. gray. in fact touched him only once, let me clarify that. his attorneys say he only touched freddie gray once. the defense argued that the officer followed his training. we're watching the video of officer nero. professor, what do you expect the reaction to be now that you have one hung jury and now this acquittal from the judge in this case?
>> well, i think you'll have an increasing sense of really frustration against the criminal justice system here. you mentioned that there was an african-american judge. we have a black mayor. we had a black policeman. but american policing was founded on slave patrols. this system of policing has been always exacting disproportionate violence against african-americans throughout the history of this country. so i don't think that people here who are living in the communities where there's a high level of police aggression, a high level of police brutality, they're not going to be happy with this. i think there's going to have to be a lot of discussions about the criminal justice system right here in baltimore, maryland, whether or not it can in fact deliver justice for people dliliving in disinvestedd line communities. prosecutors are used to working with the police so is it possible that they're going to deliver the best case they can deliver, that they're going to
be the strongest prosecutors they can when they're working with police every day. that's going to be a question we have. >> that's an interesting question you're posing. as you pointed out, the mayor is african-american. baltimo baltimore's state's attorney is african-american. so because this verdict did not go down in the way that you and many others wanted it to, you believe that there's a systemic conspiracy that also then involves african-american leaders of your city and even prosecutors? >> no, it doesn't have to be a conspiracy. it is the way the system is designed. remember, we're talking about supreme court decisions. we're talking about laws and legal structures. so regardless of the people that you put in place, this system is not designed to work with or work for the interests of people living in disinvested red line black communities. the people you're talking about have a higher level of class, higher level standard of living.
but for poor african-americans living in disinvested red line black communities, this system isn't designed to work for them and many of us are very clear about that today. >> but here you have a case where six officers, some of which were african-american as well, were brought in on charges, arrested and charged with the death of freddie gray. and the state's attorney, marilyn mosby, african-american, vowed to find justice and pursue justice in this case. is it possible here that, for example, with officer nero, i'll point that out, that there was not enough evidence to convict him? and that perhaps the other cases will play out in what you will see as justice? i guess what i'm asking you, the initial concern here was, was there a sweep. you brought in all of these officers who played various roles in this allegedly and that maybe there was an overreach to bring what is justice to freddie
gray. someone was responsible here. he did not break his own spine. he did not sever his own vertebra. he did not put his own body in the back of that van. so there has to be some responsibility here. but in this case an african-american judge says this individual, there's not enough evidence for a conviction. >> right. i think what you see is that in the defense for the police so far, there's been this constant stream of police officers saying, well, we don't know how to -- we weren't really trained on how to buckle suspects in. that isn't really our responsibility. so you see the police shirking responsibility. you see them saying that, hey, this guy was a baby officer after two years on the job. is there any job in america where you're still considered a baby employee after two years? the answer is no. >> so is this police culture versus black or white, is this about in your opinion that there
is a tremendous amount of latitude given to officers where an officer is referred to as a baby police officer or someone in training when this could ultimately end in the death of an individual which in this case was freddie gray? >> well, of course it's about policing culture, but it's also about the way black victims are viewed in our society. we dehumanize them. actually even in the media we saw here many journalists here referred to as had freddie gray trials, as if freddie gray was on trial. and so again, if we're looking at the victims, who deserves justice in america? freddie gray was treated as if he did not deserve justice, and i think that's the tragedy here today. and the criminal justice system apparently is not really designed to bring justice for victims like freddie. >> we have to get going but i have to go back to the core of my question. is this case about police culture when you look at -- and we can put the screen up of the officers charged in connection with freddie gray's death.
you see a number of african-american faces there, three african-americans, three white officers. is it also a conversation and many of the things that you've noted about baltimore and the people that are often dehumanized or viewed as underclass, that is obviously an important conversation. is this, though, also about police culture where you can have an african-american officer also be charged in connection with the death of a black person? >> well, i mean here's what you have to understand about baltimore in terms of police culture. nearly 90% of our officers do not live in baltimore city. so you're having suburban values that influence the policing strategy of nearly 90% of the police force. african-american or white. our police officers don't live in our communities. they don't live in freddie gray's community. so there's no way that their culture is going to be
congruent. >> but that is a conversation that is being had around this country. >> yes. >> that is not an exclusive issue facing baltimore. >> but that is a part of police culture. there's no way -- for instance, if you watch the wire, you see officers go into a community and when they hurt a boy in the eye, the residents in the show begin to throw something at the police, so officers who view that show before they begin to police here in baltimore, they're looking at something and saying, wait a minute, those people, those people are our enemies. and i think that's what sort of feeds the culture of policing, that people living in red line communities -- they should be afraid of them and i think that's a very underlying part of police culture. >> what we know is, obviously, this freddie gray case and many others, walter scott, the list goes on and on, the case involving the young man laquon in chicago where a judge wants rahm emanuel to testify on the
so-called code of silence that may exist in the police department there, but i guess the core of what you are saying is, yes, in many cities, not just baltimore, officers do not live in the neighborhoods they police but that could be applied to teachers as well in some of the hardest-hit areas. you have teachers who will not live in that community but choose to go into that community to teach those children. so you may not live in the community, but there is a bond that can happen, and many police departments, including baltimore, are pledging to do just that. you don't have to live in the community and the people don't have to be dehumanized. there seems to be an effort, according to your mayor, and you can tell me if you believe it's effective or not, to make that change, that there can be a human connection and you don't have to live exactly next door to the people you're policing. >> well, perhaps so, but there's research that indicates that the more segregated a city is, the higher the level of excessive force complaints against police
officers. baltimore is in the top hypersegregated, top eight hypersegregated cities in america, so is chicago, so is flint, so is detroit. so in these cities, again, segregation is influencing the bias that officers have against the people they're policing. i would argue that that is absolutely a part of the culture of policing here in baltimore and elsewhere across america. >> in the end, what do you believe the reaction, i'm sure you and other city leaders are bracing and advising people to, again, let cooler heads prevail. we saw the most difficult part of this following the death of mr. gray that impacted the city with some violence, mostly peaceful protests, but still scary moments for that community. >> i'm sorry, say that again. >> i'm asking you, what are you calling on the people of baltimore to do in reaction to this verdict? >> well, i don't know that i have a call in terms of their reaction, but i know there's unresolved trauma. i know that people are hurting.
we've never dealt with that. i've created a plan that actually we should go out and send out social workers, mental health workers, public health workers and actually go door to door connecting people with resources, helping them to make sure that they have opportunity. but instead we seem to believe that a riot mobilization of our police, at least on the last verdict, i'm not sure what they're doing here today, seems to be a more effective way of response from the city's perspective. i just think that's wrong. i think our citizens here in this city deserve to have their pain understood and respected. i think a lot of us are really hurting right now. it remains to be seen whether or not our public health department and other officials in this city will mobilize to treat the underlying trauma and police brow at that time is a part of that trauma. >> all right, professor, thank you so much for your time. we greatly appreciate it. let me go back to ari melber. obviously that conversation took on a grander note, meaning a more complicated conversation,
policing, policing in african-american and latino communities or communities that are not so-called affluent neighborhoods. nevertheless, this verdict does set the stage for the other cases that are still pending and that is where some of this testimony could get very complicated and the reaction from the city could be different than what we're seeing now. >> it certainly does. i was listening to your conversation with professor brown there, tamron. i think one of the bigger questions here is what happens when policing goes wrong. in other words, no one looks at this situation where you have an individual who was not accused or found to be committing a crime, freddie gray, taken into custody and dying in custody and saying, oh, this worked. this didn't work. i think that is a fair and objective statement about what happened. so what is animating then the results and the reaction of what we might call the system, right, the justice system, the political system, the things you and professor brown were going back and forth on, is what is
the accountability. and so while each of these individual cases as you mentioned have different details to them, and i've already said on area officer nero's case did look legally weaker, it is certainly understandable that the community of baltimore and the people watching all of this are wondering if by the end of this process will any single person who was in charge of freddie gray that day be held accountable for the fact that he wound up dead and wasn't lawfully arrested, according to the evidence put forward. i think that is the big question. so to drill down on the implication of your question and the remaining trials, there is going to be, i think, a real incumbent pressure on the prosecutors to figure out who can they say actually was directly responsible, because they are running in through now one mistrial and today's acquittal, they're running into skepticism of the idea that everyone can be looped in, in sort of a loose way, but there are, of course, remaining more serious charges of the people who had more direct contact with
him before he died. >> you talk about the pressure now on the prosecution. we just got this statement in, ari, from the baltimore city fraternal order of police. they say none of these officers did anything wrong. the state's attorney's office responded to the riots and violence in baltimore by rushing to charge these officers rashly and without meaningful investigation. they seized a political opportunity and in the process destroyed six lives and demolished the relationship between the baltimore police department and their own office. officer nero prays that justice will serve each of the remaining officers with the same fairness that it served them. so now you've got the fraternal order of police. a highly political statement and point the finger at least, saying that the state's attorney's office led by marilyn mosby, an african-american woman, that they bowed to the pressure of riots and violence in baltimore and rushed to
charge these officers. >> i'll tell you, to my ear that's a very charged statement. that's as you point out essentially saying that she's not doing her job in an honest or good faith way, that she is putting, quote unquote, politics above the law, very charged. i think that reflects the tension in the community, which we've been covering for a long time which we're aware of. the ultimate question for a prosecutor is not whether you win every case. you're not supposed to have 100% record. the question is whether you are led by the evidence and the facts and not any other outside or corrupting influences. i think it's fairly clear as a legal matter that the prosecutor here, ms. mosby, took an aggressive stance towards what she views as these crimes. i would point out that's what prosecutors tend to do up and down the line across america. it's just that we are less accustomed to seeing officers in that firing line. in my experience both as a lawyer and a journalist covering the law, when prosecutors decide
to pursue wrongdoing, they are very aggressive. they don't go with the lowest charge available, they tend to go with higher or the highest. they do try to compel testimony and push people into testifying who otherwise would not want to, which is part of the tension and some of the delays in this case with regard officer porter's testimony but we see that in mafia cases, in gang banging cases, in rico and racketeering cases. you try to squeeze people to get someone to talk. she is doing this here as a matter of precedent that's not unusual as a legal tactic. it may strike people in baltimore in the police community as unusual when deployed against officers. >> what also may be unusual, ari, and you can add to this and i've read police statements in the past from unions and fraternal order of police in my many years of reporting. reading this reaction from baltimore city's fraternal order of police strikes me assin kred nibble a lot of ways. there are a couple of attacks against -- personal attacks
against attorney mosby here. let me continue to read. it goes to know to say officer nero prays that justice will be served for the remaining officers. he implores state attorney mosby to refocus her flawed analysis of the facts surrounding mr. gray's death and dismiss the remaining charges. these are good police officers and good people. and while mr. gray's death is no doubt tragic on many levels, maintaining these prosecutions only propels the tragedy to another level. so several times in this statement, one alleging that the charges were only brought about as a reaction to riots and violence and then focusing in on what they allege is her flawed analysis of the facts, it's interesting, you often see prosecutors become a part of the story line. >> sure. >> but in this case it is interesting how the police department or the fraternal order of police, the union representing them, have decided to so heavily focus in on this
state's attorney specifically. >> yes. what you just quoted is basically the police trying to tell the prosecutors how to do their job. that's not how it's supposed to work. the way it's supposed to work and anyone who has seen "law & order" knows this, the police collect evidence and make arrests. prosecutors decide when and how to charge and whether to charge. there is a constructive relationship there and anyone who has been around it in a courtroom or arraignments knows there's a working relationship with some tension sometimes. this is not the normal tension. this is a fairly unusual statement from some officers directly involved, basically trying to tell the prosecutors what to do in cases where the legal term for this would be a conflict of interest. obviously you have a convict of interest if you or your close confidants are defendants. then you're not speaking as a police officer, but as a defendant. >> what you have here is a man
who was taken into police custody who died. the statement reads as if the fraternal order of police did not or do not expect someone to be charged. this man, according to the investigation, there was no reason to pull him over. there was no cause for an arrest. he is inside the back of a police van. he dies some days later. his vertebra severed. and looking at the statement, they are accusing the state's attorney of politicizing the death of a man who was arrive before he was placed in the van. who's responsible, that is up to the judicial system. that is up to the courts and the juries. but somehow to say that the individuals' lives were destroyed in the process, well, freddie gray lost his life. his family members lost him. his life is completely and forever destroyed. he is dead. >> exactly. i think that's right.
if you look at this, we've been talking about the law of it, we've been talking about the politics of it and who's injecting politics, but there's also the humanity of it which i think you just put forward. if you look at this as a human being, as a life that matters, or you imagine bowieing a famil member of that person and finding out that person was taken into custody without a reason and then died in custody, you would want answers too. i think the new statement you just read here on this day where we have the new verdict reflects just how far apart all -- maybe all is too strong, but many of the key players and parties are here on a case that obviously has a lot more work to do. you look at the officers up on that screen, five are still pending cases. five are still cases to be argued. the most serious cases yet to be decided. >> and one of the cases ended with a hung jury. clearly the jury listening to both sides in the porter case, they were not able to reach a decision. you have this case today, a white officer, a black judge,
and the judge says the officer is not guilty. we don't know how these others will play out. but to somehow believe that the family of freddie gray and the community should not want answers and that the state's attorney is reacting solely to violence and riots, she very well could be reacting to the fact that someone has been killed and that person's family deserves answers. and following their investigation, flawed or not, this is where it was led, to these individuals who have now been placed on trial, one of them acquitted today, the other with a hung jury who goes back at it in may. let me bring in ron mott. he is standing by outside the court house in baltimore with a couple of reactions that we're hearing there on the ground. ron. ron, what do you have for us? >> reporter: sorry about that, tamron. i'm with a criminal defense attorney here in baltimore. we had just been discussing the
case. if you were a member of this defense team, how confident were you coming into today that the state just didn't prove its case. >> based on the evidence that i heard that was admitted, i would have been very confident. i don't think -- i think the judge showed that the state failed to present evidence necessary for all elements of all the crimes. >> reporter: we know that officer porter's trial ended with a mistrial. the jury was deadlocked on some serious charges against him. >> correct. >> reporter: if you're one of the defense members of the five cases to come, is the strategy, hey, we want to try our case in front of judge williams? >> there's a lot of strategies up in the air from now on. based on the fact that judge has tried this case, he has formulated opinion about a lot of the facts here. if i were one of those attorneys i would be seriously considering if i even wanted to have a trial with this judge. certainly he's a wonderful honorable judge but he's formulated opinions about the facts without them having their opportunity to present their side. >> reporter: do you think the judge tipped his hand there may be some criminal culpability
with the defendants to come? >> in his summation today, the judge pointed to two aspects that i think would affect officer miller's case as well as the officer involved in the seat belting of mr. gray in the vehicle. those particular attorneys i think are listening very intently and thinking he's really made some conclusions here that i was hoping he wouldn't make and perhaps i don't want this to be the judge that is the trier of my fact in the future trials. they could ask him to consider recusing himself or if the judge is not inclined, they might ask for a jury trial. >> reporter: you've not tried cases in front of judge williams. >> i haven't tried a case with judge williams specifically. >> reporter: tamron, that's sort of the sense here is that a lot of people were looking at the result of this case and wondering if it's going to then be sort of a stack of dominos falling, that the five defendants coming up will opt for judge williams versus going with a jury because of the
emotion that juries bring into that jury room and all of their life stories coming into that deliberation process, which endi ended with a mistrial in december. officer porter's case will be interesting going forward as well because he is now compelled if the state so chooses to put him on the stand to testify for the state against his fellow officers because the state believes he's got some very valuable opinions about what he was thinking that day and how it may help bolster the state's case an prosecution against the other four officers who are yet to be pru to be prosecuted from this case. >> we have this tweet in from the media relations person re79ing the baltimore police department. it says although the criminal case against officer nero has come to a close, the internal investigation has not. with that, officer nero's status will remain unchanged. he will remain in an administrative capacity while this investigation continues and that the internal investigation is being handled by other police
departments. we're going to continue to follow the breaking news out of baltimore, but meanwhile coming up, the supreme court justices just this morning ruled decisively in a case involving a death sentence for a black man. it was handed down by an all-white jury. the court takes a look at the racial makeup of jurors and we'll tell you what they concluded today. we'll be right back. the surface pro is very intuitive. i can draw lightly, just like i would with a real pencil. i've been a forensic artist for over 30 years. i do the composite sketches which are the bad guy sketches. you need good resolution, powerful processor because the computer has to start thinking as fast as my brain does. i do this because i want my artwork to help people.
midway dak to normandy medina ridge the chosin reservoir these are places history will never forget but more important are the faces we will always remember. ♪ welcome back. we're following breaking news out of the high court. the supreme court justices ruled decisively in a case involving a death sentence for a black man handed down boy an all-white jury. nbc's justice correspondent pete williams is live at the supreme court with the details. hi, pete. >> reporter: tamron, good day. it isn't often that the supreme court takes a case to correct what they consider to be a miscarriage of justice. usually they take a case to say something new about the law or make sure it's consistently applied around the country but this seems to be one of those cases. this involves a man who was 18
years old when almost -- well, in fact 30 years ago he was convicted of killing a white woman and he was convicted and given the death sentence by an all-white jury. his defense lawyer said that prosecutors went out of their way to exclude blacks from the jury and, therefore, the trial was tainted. and today the supreme court agreed with that. justice john roberts writing the majority opinion said the focus on race in the prosecution's file plainly demonstrates a concerted effort to keep black perspective jurors off that jury. and the evidence was pretty overwhelming here. the names of the black jurors were highlighted in green ink. the letters "b" or "n" were next to their names. the prosecutors talked about if we have to have a black juror, perhaps this woman would be acceptable but they challenged her too. they said she was too close in age to the defendant, but she was 34, the defendant was 18. for all those reasons, the supreme court said this was a clear case of prosecutors rejecting potential jurors
simply because of racial bias and the court as many as 30 years ago said prosecutors can't do that. a couple of other notes here, tamron. first of all, 7-1 decision. the only dissent was from the court's sing 'em african-american justice, clarence thomas, who said the court should not have taken the case for technical reasons. also they were hoping the supreme court would say prosecutors can't use these challenges where they strike people off the jury list without giving a good reason. but the supreme court didn't go that far today, so the case goes back. in essence, the conviction is overturned. >> just quickly, pete, you bring up justice thomas. he is now trending on social media because he is the only dissenting voice. obviously this is a georgia man and people are making the connection, you know, clarence thomas from georgia is african-american, conservative, we know the lynna alineage here. but he is trending on social media, people remarking to that very thing, that the one
african-american on the high court is the dissenting voice here. >> reporter: right. well, he didn't go into the details like the majority did. he is a stickler, if you will, for when the supreme court has jurisdiction. there are very complicated rules about when the u.s. supreme court gets to review state court decisions, and that's what this was. and he said that the rules, they just don't allow the supreme court to have heard this case at all. for that reason, he said they shouldn't have taken it, they shouldn't have made this decision. >> so a technicality that he's pointed out there. >> reporter: exactly. >> pete, thank you very much. we have a lot more going on including a breaking news story. we're just getting in here, a planned parenthood clinic is under evacuation. this is in sarasota, florida. we have some live images right now coming in to us. we're not able to see individuals leaving this facility, but i am told that it is under an evacuation order. we don't see any -- and perhaps it's on another side of this building and we're working to get some of the video in.
i would imagine if there's an evacuation order, there would be some police activity in and around it. we see some tape there. you're able to see a better vantage point, i'm not sure if it's connected to this evacuation order we are being told there is an evacuation in order in place of this planned parenthood in sarasota. we'll go to breaking news for this. there is a fire truck now. we'll go into break and we'll be back with more development out of sarasota. the all-new audi a4, with available virtual cockpit. ♪ heavily into basketball. 21-year-old female. wait. data just changed... now she's into disc sports. ah, no she's not. since when? since now. she's into tai chi. she found disc sports too stressful. hold on. let me ask you this... what's she gonna like six months from now?
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there's no shame in saving money. ride on, ride proud. geico motorcycle, great rates for great rides. technology moves faster than ever. the all-new audi a4, with apple carplay integration. welcome back, we got update news on this vaevacuation in th planned parenthood in sarasota, florida. this appears to be something related to cleaning chemicals used, 38 people became ill after an unknown substance that made them sick in the building. let me go to the helicopter reporter, paul, with our nbc's station, wfla.
about 38 people in the building and we are told that they have been transported for decontamination at the scene. it appears to be with some chemicals? >> reporter: here, correct, here is planned parenthood building. there are 38 people actually in the building. i was told that six people were transported and if i pan out here you will see some of the fire trucks responded to the scene. we have seen one or two people standing there. right now they seem to be in a standstill position if i show you over here. it is harder to see in the shadow and there is firefighters here and they are standing here and trying to figure out what's going on. if i pull back, you can see more fire trucks here, the people evacuated standing in the back of the building. they have been transported from the bus and picked them up. i am not sure where they took them to.
the people are still evacuated from this building. right now we are over it and it is hard to tell what's going on. from our vantage point, it is at a standstill, i will bring it back to you. paul, thank you. in baltimore, one of a officers charged in connection of freddie gray not guilty by the judge. what are folks telling you? >> reporter: the watch is onto see how the city response at large of this verdict today, not guilty on all counts and four countdowns on all most serious of the second degree assault charge which carries a maximum of 10 years in prison. billy murphy is the attorney for freddie gray's family. how are people reacting to this? >> they were reacting calmly and
the judge gave detailed reasons for why he thought the evidence was insufficient and why the law did not compel a conviction in this case. you could not ask a better judge to do it. he was a local prosecution here for many years. he was a federal prosecutors of corrupt cops for many years. he demonstrated that he will not be swayed by anybody. >> reporter: not guilty on all counts. it will be interesting to see whether there will be a jury trial >> thank you very much, that does it for this hour, msnbc live, i am tamron hall. up next is jeh johnson joining andrea mitchell.
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one of the six officers not guilty. the reactions is swift and loud. [ inaudible ] >> neck and neck, our new poll showing a dead heat in a general election match up between hillary clinton and donald trump. as clinton continues her battle at bernie sanders. we have surprising new numbers from that poll at this hour. >> my campaign is not going to let donald trump try to normalize himself in this period. >> bad judgment, she suffers from bad judgment. >> and urgent search, the window is closing fast to find the black boxes from egyptair flight as investigators searching for clues as to what went wrong and how did that impact airport security in the u.s. already facing jammed check points. >> i am more concerned of the