The six police officers implicated for the death of Freddie Gray have rights to hide information as granted by Baltimore’s Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights or LEOBOR.
Lt. Brian Rice, 41, Sgt. Alicia White, 30, Officer Garrett Miller, 26, Officer Edward Nero, 29, Officer William Porter, 25, and 45-year-old Officer Caesar Goodson are all obliged to reveal to supervisors their knowledge of a crime or arrest, but their statements are not to be held against them in any criminal proceeding.
Freddie Gray’s Death: What is LEOBOR?
Dayvon Love, director of public policy for the Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle or the LBS, said that Gray’s death is the best example of how LEOBOR protects police from self-incrimination, making it difficult to hold them criminally liable.
Under the protection of LEOBOR, police are obliged to speak about an arrest or any incident if their supervisors make it compulsory. However, their statements are off-the-record in relation to any criminal investigation. Under LEOBOR, the implicated police officers may only issue official statements after hiring an attorney. Police have up to 10 days to get an attorney, where they will only then be required to issue official statements.
“It gives law enforcement time to hide certain information and construct a story that is palatable to the public. It gives law enforcement time to hide certain information and construct a story that is palatable to the public and allow them to preserve people’s jobs and so on,” Love told Vice News.
“The mayor herself does not have access to the information of what happened [because of LEOBOR],” Love said.
Michael E. Davey, a Baltimore police union attorney, argued otherwise. He said Gray’s death has got nothing to do with LEOBOR. What is involved in the case is the constitutional rights of each of the officer.
“Police officers, like any other individual or citizen who is being investigated for a criminal act, have a constitutional right not to speak to the police. At no point when you’re hired by a police department do you sign a waiver saying you’ve given up your constitutional rights,” Davey said.
He confirmed that all six officers have given their voluntary and recorded statements regarding the case. However, none of these statements were made public.
Freddie Gray’s Spinal Injury
Davey said that the severe spinal injury that led to Gray’s death may not have been caused by the arrest made by the police. Instead, something may have happened to him inside the police van.
“Our position is something happened inside that van. We just don’t know what. … We need to figure out what happened,” Davey said during a press conference as quoted by ABC News.
“I know that when Mr. Gray was placed inside that van, he was able to talk and he was upset. And when Mr. Gray was taken out of that van, he could not talk and he could not breathe,” Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez seconded.
Freddie Gray’s death reflects police vs black long-standing clash
People from the Sandtown neighborhood where Gray was arrested said that the man’s case only casts a spotlight down the long-standing stand-off between the police and black people.
“They’ve been given badges to be bullies, they’ve been given badges to terrorize,” Melissa told the Voice of America. She said there is no justice, especially when news comes that the police are suspended with pay.
“Suspended with pay? What is that? You giving them a paid vacation for killing somebody?” Melissa said.
Another resident, Shawn, said black people always bear the fear of encountering the police.
“This is the reason why we run – because we already know, there’s a 90 percent chance that if you don’t run, you’re going to get locked up for something. It’s sad that we had to take this death, to make publicity for this when we’ve been talking about this for years,” Shawn told VOA.
Also read: Freddie Gray’s Arrest
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