Shootings and homicides have surged in Baltimore since the April 27 burial of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who died from injuries suffered in the back of a police van. Officers blame the surge on criminals who are emboldened by the hesitancy police are feeling about doing their jobs.
"In 29 years, I've gone through some bad times, but I've never seen it this bad," Lt. Kenneth Butler told the Baltimore Sun. "Policing, as we once knew it, has changed."
Butler is one of several officers who say law enforcement is suffering as police feel they’re under intense scrutiny following State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s decisions to file charges, including second-degree murder, against the six officers accused of allowing Gray to die in their custody.
The newspaper said about 40 locals have been shot, some fatally, since Gray’s funeral, which sparked a surge in riots and an ensuing nearly weeklong citywide curfew to quell the unrest. Ten of those shootings occurred Thursday, leaving three people dead. Fifteen homicides were reported in 11 days following Gray's burial. Baltimore was already experiencing a surge of gun violence before the Gray incident dragged the city’s police force into the national spotlight over the use of excessive force. A string of high-profile deaths of African-American men at the hands of law enforcement has captured the nation's attention since last summer. There have been 82 Baltimore-area homicides since the start of the year, 20 more than in the same period of time last year.
Attorneys representing the six police officers Friday filed a motion to dismiss the case and asked that Mosby recuse herself, claiming “overzealous” prosecution and areas of conflicting interest. Mosby claims the officers illegally arrested Gray after alleging a knife he was carrying was illegal to possess in Maryland. Mosby claims the police didn’t establish probable cause, and the knife they found after searching Gray was not illegal to possess, making Gray’s detention illegal.