Charges Against 6 Officers In Freddie Gray’s Death Range From Murder To Assault

People protesting the death of Freddie Gray and demanding police accountability took to the streets in Baltimore's Sandtown neighborhood again Thursday night.Getty Images, Andrew Burton

People protesting the death of Freddie Gray and demanding police accountability took to the streets in Baltimore’s Sandtown neighborhood again Thursday night.
Getty Images, Andrew Burton

by Bill Chappell NPR

 

The Baltimore Police Department’s report on the death of Freddie Gray is now being examined by the city’s top prosecutor. The findings aren’t public; police revealed only a few new details when they announced the transition in the case Thursday. Baltimore’s curfew is expected to remain in effect through this weekend.

Gray died on March 19, one week after being taken into custody; police have said that during his transport, Gray wasn’t buckled in properly and did not receive timely medical care. Six police officers remain suspended over the case.

As Sam reported for the Two-Way, when police turned over the documents to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore, they announced that “the van transporting Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who suffered a serious spine injury while in police custody and later died, made one more stop than previously thought.”

The roughly 40 minutes that Gray spent in the van have emerged as the focal point in the inquiry over how he sustained an injury that would later be blamed for his death.

That extra stop was discovered through a review of recordings made by security and private cameras, Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said. He added that another detainee who was riding in the van told police that Gray was “still moving around … kicking and making noises” until the van reached the police station.

That second detainee rode in the police van on the other side of a metal partition that divides its cargo space. When he was picked up, Gray was already in the van.

Local news WJZ-TV reports that Donta Allen, 22, was that second man – and that he came forward Thursday out of concern over how his comments were being portrayed by both the police and the media.

“When I was in the back of that van it did not stop or nothing. All it did was go straight to the station, but I heard a little banging, like he was banging his head,” Allen said. ” I didn’t even know he was in the van until we got to the station.”

Saying his words have been distorted by recent reports and that he doesn’t think Gray hurt himself intentionally, Allen also told a WJZ reporter, “The only reason I’m doing this is because they put my name in a bad state.”

Allen, who was reportedly taken into custody for a minor offense and was not charged with a crime, also spoke to WBAL TV. He told the station that when he got into the van, he didn’t know Gray was already there. He said he heard “a little banging for like four seconds.”

WBAL aired surveillance camera footage that shows officers looking into Gray’s side of the van during the stop that also picked up Allen.

When the van arrived at the police station, Allen said he heard the officers say that Gray didn’t have a pulse and was unresponsive — and that another officer later said, “He’s got vitals now, he must’ve come back.”

The sequence of events has led to wide-ranging questions over what happened: Was the van driven in a way that caused Gray’s injury? When did he become unresponsive? Were the sounds Allen heard caused by a seizure experienced by a gravely wounded man?

The Baltimore Sun reports: “Maryland’s chief medical examiner, Dr. David R. Fowler, said his office has not completed an autopsy or turned any documents over to police or prosecutors. He said homicide detectives had observed the examination, a routine practice.”

When it’s complete, Fowler’s report will go straight to the state’s attorney’s office, the newspaper says.

Protesters have been calling on police to reveal more information about the case. Thursday was the third night of Baltimore’s 10 p.m. curfew; before that time arrived, crowds of demonstrators marched in the city’s downtown, among a large police presence.

According to the AP, here’s what protesters were chanting last night:

    • “I love Baltimore. We want peace.”
    • “No justice, no peace.”
    • “Justice. Freddie Gray.”
    • “Black lives matter.”

 

Police to crack down on DUI of alcohol, pot, other drugs

Source: Marysville Globe

With marijuana now legal in the state, police are prepared to crack down on users who drive under the influence.

“Specifically, we want people to know that marijuana doubles the risk of a fatal crash,” said Darrin Grondel, Traffic Safety Commission director.

“With new retail marijuana stores in the mix, we want to remind the public that prescription and over-the-counter drugs, as well as illegal and recreational drugs, can impair driving ability,” Grondel said.

Between Aug. 15 and Sept. 1 extra officers will be on the roads looking for drivers under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs during the annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign.

Drivers are encouraged to find alternative transportation or ride with a sober designated driver.

“More people may be using marijuana recreationally, but that should never be mixed with driving,” said Lt. Rob Sharpe, commander of the Washington State Patrol Impaired Driving Section.

Additionally, law enforcement reminds young drivers that impairment laws are much stricter for anyone under the age of 21. A young driver who has any marijuana in their system or a blood alcohol concentration of .02 or higher is considered to be driving under the influence and is at risk for arrest.

During 2013 in Snohomish County, 3,121 people were charged with DUI. Arlington and Marysville police, along with the county and many other jurisdictions, are participating in the campaign.

‘Night of 1,000 Stars’ kicks off extra patrols though New Year

Arlington Police Officer Erik Moon checks his computer before driving his patrol car out for the ‘Night of 1,000 Stars’ impaired driving emphasis on Dec. 13.— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

Arlington Police Officer Erik Moon checks his computer before driving his patrol car out for the ‘Night of 1,000 Stars’ impaired driving emphasis on Dec. 13.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

By Janelle Kohnert, Marysville Globe

SMOKEY POINT — Arlington Police Officer Erik Moon has taken part in three of the annual “Night of 1,000 Stars” impaired driving emphasis patrols in Snohomish County over the course of the past seven years. When he headed out to cover the south Arlington, Smokey Point and north Marysville areas on the evening of Dec. 13, he already had a pretty good idea of what he could expect to find, although he acknowledged that this year would offer a few new wrinkles.

“The holidays can be depressing for some people, so they drink a bit too much,” Moon said. “What’s different now is that people can smoke marijuana in their homes, but then they might decide to go for a drive to the store. It’s not alcohol, but it’s still driving under the influence. We have to administer a blood draw to test for that, since you can be high on marijuana and blow all zeros on the breathalyzer, so that does no good as a test. Still, it’s like the adjustments we went through when they lowered the blood alcohol limit a while back. It’s just another learning curve.”

According to Moon, those who drive under the influence tend to be in their 20s and 30s, although he recalled one intoxicated driver who was 87 years old.

“It caught me off guard a little bit, but I processed her the same as I would any other DUI,” Moon said. “We can’t be choosy when it comes to protecting the public.”

Moon was one of 10 police officers and sheriff’s deputies in Snohomish County, working an average of eight hours of overtime each, who made contact with 167 drivers on Friday, Dec. 13, the first night of Washington state’s 23rd annual “Night of 1,000 Stars,” which ran through Sunday, Dec. 15.

“Five suspected impaired drivers were arrested,” Snohomish County DUI and Target Zero Task Force Manager Tracy McMillan said. “Most were booked into the Snohomish County Jail. Two of the suspected drivers reported drinking at a north Marysville alcohol establishment, which Washington State Liquor Control Board officers are investigating, while 24 other drivers were cited for no insurance, and four individuals were arrested for outstanding warrants. Washington State Liquor Enforcement officers visited 14 alcohol establishments that Friday night, and 20 alcohol establishments and retailers that Saturday night. Unfortunately, two stores sold alcohol to minors and were cited.”

Indeed, in his first hour on patrol that Friday night, Moon hadn’t caught any intoxicated drivers, but he had pulled over two drivers whose headlights were out within minutes of each other.

“Intoxicated drivers like to drive without their lights on,” Moon said. “I look at a lot of things for possible indicators of a DUI. Some intoxicated drivers will sit at green lights because they’re nearly passed out, while others will make wide turns or slow turns. They could be intoxicated, or they could be distracted by things like texting, but either way, they’re unsafe. Intoxicated drivers’ cognitive functions are not all there, and if they do get into collisions, they’re actually the least likely to be injured by them, because their muscles are already relaxed.”

Even after the “Night of 1,000 Stars,” extra patrols are planned to continue through the New Year.

“Officers, deputies and troopers will also be on the lookout for people who speed, drive aggressively, aren’t wearing seat-belts or are violating other traffic laws,” McMillan said. “Wintertime driving can be hazardous, but it can be deadly when it’s mixed with alcohol or drugs.”

“Impaired driving as the result of drugs or alcohol is the number one cause of vehicle collision deaths in our county,” Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary said. “We want to everyone to make it home safely this holiday season.”

An average of 49 people lose their lives in traffic collisions between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day in Washington state, but in November of this year, not a single person lost their life in a motor vehicle collision in Snohomish County.

“That’s a tremendous accomplishment, but we need to remain vigilant,” Snohomish County Executive John Lovick said. “We want drivers to be safe throughout the holidays.”

These special overtime DUI and Target Zero emphasis patrols are paid for by a special grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to reduce traffic deaths and disabling injuries to zero by the year 2030. The “Night of 1,000 Stars” is a cooperative effort with law enforcement, liquor enforcement and traffic safety task forces throughout Washington state.

Groom retires from Tulalip Tribal Police

Kirk BoxleitnerTulalip Tribal Police Officer Larry Groom meets with the kids of the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club one last time, one day before stepping down from the force on July 26.

Kirk Boxleitner
Tulalip Tribal Police Officer Larry Groom meets with the kids of the Tulalip Boys & Girls Club one last time, one day before stepping down from the force on July 26.

Kirk Boxleitner, Marysville Globe

TULALIP — For two years after his ailing health forced him to retire from his full-time duties as the School Resource Officer for the Tulalip Tribal Police Department and the Marysville School District, Larry Groom was still able to put in part-time hours in his former position, but on Friday, July 26, he left the job for good due to his worsening condition.

“The very next week after I’d retired, Jay asked me if I’d come back on a part-time basis,” Groom said of Jay Goss, who was the chief of the Tulalip Tribal Police Department at the time. “After the first month, I went from five to four days a week. A while after that, I was working three days a week, then eventually two, and for the last several months, I’ve only been able to work two half-days each week. It’s just gotten harder and harder.”

Groom was diagnosed three years ago with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” but he found the strength to keep going from his desire to continue his nearly 40-year career in law enforcement, as well as his love of the many children he’s befriended in his role. And for a while after his retirement, the deterioration of his health leveled off, but his latest six-month medical checkup confirmed that his illness had grown more severe recently.

“When I was originally diagnosed, one lung was already gone and the other was only functioning at 36 percent,” Groom said. “I’ve had aches and pains throughout, but I’ve lost even more of my remaining lung function lately. I have a machine at night that works like the reverse of a sleep apnea machine, to help pull the air out of my lungs so that they can open up and inhale more air. When I’m not on the job, I walk with a cane or a walker, or I get around on a scooter, which helps with my back and legs, since they’re getting weaker.”

Still, Groom is able to look back fondly on a law enforcement career that’s included stints as the chief of police of two cities, as well as working with federal investigations, customs and the DEA. None of that, however, is what he’ll miss the most after he turns in his uniform and equipment.

“What I’ll miss the most is the kids,” said Groom, who’s mentored countless children over the decades, many of them now adults with children of their own. “The Tulalip Indian Reservation has become my home. They’ve accepted me very well, in spite of my being an ugly old white guy,” he laughed.

Tulalip Tribal member Patrick Reeves was still a teenager when he first met Groom seven years ago.

“He came up to me and asked me to join the Police Explorers, and we’ve kept in touch ever since,” said Reeves, who now has a daughter and works in maintenance for the Tulalip Tribes. “That academy was hard, but Larry kept me in. He was always there for me. If I was having hard times, he’d stop by or bring me lunch. He’s just a really good guy. No matter what you’re going through, he’ll be there to help you any way he can.”

“I just want to thank this community for trusting me with their children,” said Groom, who still hopes to continue serving as the Tulalip Tribal Police Department’s chaplain. “And I want to thank the Marysville School District for allowing me to work with them as their School Resource Officer.”

Marysville, Tulalip police start Business Watch program

Rikki King, The Herald

MARYSVILLE — A Business Watch program is being launched in Marysville and Tulalip.

Police in both communities are looking for business owners who want to organize crime prevention efforts, Marysville police Lt. Mark Thomas said.

The program is tailored for smaller businesses, but all business owners are welcome to participate, he said.

“It’s basically taking an interest in protecting yourself and reducing the possibility of being a victim of crime,” he said.

Participants will learn about crime prevention and will work together as neighbors to keep an eye out for one another, Thomas said.

Police officers will be there to help along the way. Officers also will be available to address special areas of concern such as burglaries, shoplifting, fraud and computer crimes.

For more information, contact:

Marysville Lt. Mark Thomas, 360-363-8321, mthomas@marysvillewa.gov

Bob Rise, Business Watch coordinator, 360-363-8325, MVP@marysvillewa.gov

Tulalip Deputy Chief Carlos Echevarria, 360-716-4608, CEchevarria@TulalipTribalPolice.org

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com

Underwater robot will assist with rescue and recovery

By Rikki King, The Herald

The Snohomish County Sheriff's Office's newly acquired SeaLion-2 underwater robot, dubbed "Batman" by deputies, cruises in a South Everett swimming pool last week. Its controllers are seen above the robot. Photo: Mark Mulligan / The Herald

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office’s newly acquired SeaLion-2 underwater robot, dubbed “Batman” by deputies, cruises in a South Everett swimming pool last week. Its controllers are seen above the robot. Photo: Mark Mulligan / The Herald

EVERETT — In the water, the robot looked like a curious critter.

It glided through the pool, poking its nose up to the surface to nudge at obstacles.

The robot is construction-equipment yellow, about the size of a small dog.

Nearby, specially trained deputies watched its movements on a computer screen, scanning the water through its “eyes.”

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office recently acquired an underwater robot, a JW Fishers SeaLion-2, through a federal grant.

They call it “Batman.”

Batman went for a test drive last week at a community pool in south Everett. It splashed around and posed for pictures.

Its true missions are more somber.

The sheriff’s office got Batman in January, Lt. Rodney Rochon said.

Later that month, Batman helped them gather underwater visuals as they pulled a car from the Snohomish River. The bodies of two missing people were inside.

On March 16, Batman found the body of a fisherman who drowned in Silver Lake the day before.

Batman’s worth about $40,000, Rochon said. As part of the federal grant that paid for the acquisition, the dive team and the robot can be called to help with rescue and recovery operations throughout the region.

At least two children and two adults drowned in Snohomish County in 2012.

Rescues are the team’s top priority, Rochon said. In the cases when they can’t rescue someone, they try to find the body.

“We need to recover the victim so the family can get closure,” Rochon said. “It’s not just about the investigation.”

The robot also can be used to gather intelligence and limit the time human divers spend in the water, he said. It can weather harsher conditions and dive deeper — up to 1,000 feet — and for longer than people can. Deputies only can dive 100 feet for safety reasons.

The SeaLion-2 design is most popular with law enforcement, said Chris Combs, a spokesman for JW Fishers, the Massachusetts-based manufacturer. It weighs about 40 pounds. It has high-resolution color cameras in front and back and four motors to propel it forward, backward, up and down. Some models have sonar technology.

“The SeaLion-2 is really a pretty neat little machine,” Combs said.

The sheriff’s office also got to lease a SWAT robot for free for a while last year. On one mission, it helped dissolve a standoff in Marysville.

The lease ended a while back, and that robot went back home.