Criminal charges filed Friday against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray were based on "politics and crowd control," not justice, renowned civil rights lawyer Alan Dershowitz tells Newsmax TV
"This is a very sad day for justice . . . Today had nothing to do with justice. Today was crowd control. Everything was motivated by a threat of riots and a desire to prevent riots," Dershowitz said on "The Steve Malzberg Show."
"The mayor outrageously said we're going to get justice for the victim, the family and people of Baltimore, never mentioning the defendants. Under our Constitution, the only people who are entitled to justice are the defendants.
"They are presumed innocent, they need due process of law, and the mayor and the state attorney have made it virtually impossible for these defendants to get a fair trial. They have been presumed guilty."
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Dershowitz made the comments hours after Baltimore's top prosecutor, State Attorney Marilyn Mosby, announced criminal charges against six cops who were suspended after Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury while in custody in a police van.
The charges came nearly two weeks after Gray's death, which sparked riots that caused millions of dollars in damage and left dozens injured. The stiffest, second-degree, "depraved heart" murder charge was lodged against the driver of the van. The others face charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault and illegal arrest.
But Dershowitz, a Harvard Law professor emeritus and Newsmax contributor, said the case will very likely be thrown out for lack of evidence.
"I understand why the mayor and state attorney want to prevent riots . . . but that's not the job of the justice system . . . You cannot allow police officers or any other defendants to become scapegoats for crowds demanding a continuation of rioting," he told host Steve Malzberg.
"There's no plausible, hypothetical, conceivable case for murder under the facts that we now know them. You might say that conceivably there's a case for manslaughter. Nobody wanted this guy to die, nobody set out to kill him, and nobody intentionally murdered him.
"The worst-case scenario is a case for involuntary manslaughter or some kind of reckless disregard, but the idea of without further investigation coming down with murder indictments . . . This is a show trial. This is designed to please the crowd. It's designed to lower the temperature."
Dershowitz added that the charges did not meet the criteria for justice in the United States.
"It may have been the criteria in Rome, for Fidel Castro, in Iran, and in other countries, but in our country you don't base indictments on what impact it's going to have on the crowd," he said.
"You base it on a hard, neutral, objective view of the evidence, and it doesn't look like that was done here . . . They have invited a mess. What they did is they bartered short-term results today for long-term problems in the future.
"My prediction? They've overplayed their hand, it's unlikely they'll get any convictions in this case as a result of this, and if they do, there's a good possibility it'll be reversed on appeal and will just postpone the riots for months ahead."
Dershowitz is the author of "Terror Tunnels: The Case for Israel's Just War Against Hamas,"
published by Rosetta Books.
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