tv America Tonight Al Jazeera May 2, 2015 2:30am-3:01am EDT
visit facebook page and give us your feed on what you here on the programme. we invite you to follow us on twitter. follow me or get in touch at ray suarez news. see us next time in washington. i'm ray suarez. on "america tonight", the fire lafs time. baltimore young and angry. they led the way into the streets five decades ago with cries of injustice but still echos today. also tonight, above the law? "america tonight"'s adam may on officers bill of rights and
whether police are protected from prosecution in ways that most of us are not. marianna's special report, baltimore on edge. thanks for joining us i'm joie chen. the dramatic development six baltimore officers arrested in the death of freddy gray assured some in the city, leaves open the question what next? the arrests opened long simmering tensions, why so many in the community especially in its black neighborhoods have so much distrust of police and of the justice system. our coverage looks beyond the justice system as "america tonight's" adam may looks at what it has led so much suspicion about whose rights are really being protected? >> we have brought the following charges. officers dwz is being charged with second degree depraved
heart murder. involuntary manslaughter, second degree negligent assault, manslaughter by vehicle by means of criminal negligence misconduct in office for failure to secure an officer, failure to render aid. >> the baltimore states attorney announces criminal charges against six police officers in the death of freddy gray. the prosecutor's transparency, revealing details and taking swiflt action just one day after police finished their investigation is far different than others recent high profile police custody deaths and maybe a watershed moment that could chaifng thechange the culture of community mistrust of police. you mistrust that comes in part from a controversial maryland law. maryland has a law enforcement officer bill of rights, referred to as
leobr, guaranteed to grant police officers fairness in police investigations. but many say it goes too far. under the law officers can delay being questioned after a potential criminal incident unlike average citizens who are arrested and immediately questioned. >> it actually only exists in a small minority of states. maryland's is one of the oldettes if not the oldest and one of the most extreme and from our perspective worst in the entire question. >> david rocha from the aclu. >> i think it prevents timely questioning of officers. you don't want people to be able to concoct stories together. and you want to be aibl in able in critical incidents to provide information to the public as soon as possible. >> reporter: so while protestors marched in police
demanding answers and rioters burned buildings and threw rocks at police, the mayor blamed leobr for the pace of the investigation, saying officers in the gray case didn't fully cooperate early on among those protested tewanda jones. >> my brother was brutally murdered like that, screaming, even after they held him down, you got knee help help why are you doing this? >> her brother tyrone west died during a traffic stop two years ago in baltimore. after he was pinned down and stopped breathing. the police investigation of the incident cleared the officers. >> how did you think the officer bill of rights protected the officers from your brother's arrest? >> they have ten days just to give a statement. meanwhile we're burying our loved ones. in this ten days they got a
chance to watch the media and get all their lies together. >> to give that unit officer the opportunity to get council so that officer can be properly represented. i can tell you in the thousands of police investigations i've been involved in, in the last 42 years, i have never seen an investigation where the department would be ready to take a statement from an accused officer in less than ten days. >> reporter: herb weiner is the lawyer for baltimore's fraternal order of police and he represents one of the accused officers. he spoke exclusively with "america tonight" . help me understand why the need for this ten day cooling off better? >> here's the point. the law enforcement officers bill of rights doesn't cloak the officer with any special privileges that you and i don't have, or any citizen in this country. the law is given to the officer
of the u.s. constitution, the right much everycitizen not to incriminate themselves. people need to stop using the leobr as some kind of a bus to throw an officer under, it's not true. >> even if what they say incriminates them, ordinary citizens have a fifth amendment right to refuse to speak. >> when the department seeks to prosecute you for a flair disciplinary action, not only can they excel an officer, they can prosecute him. imagine if they had that luxury, imagine, to say to that person before i bring this prosecution i need to know your defense, i need to know what you're going to say. what a great great advantage that would be to the state's attorney. >> what would happen if there was no leobr? >> i think police officer would
be subject to a lot of frivolous prosecutions, a lot of police officers would leave their good job and standing, their spouses and families lose, they lose health benefits and they lose their chosen profession. a very high price so whether we use it, it must be done carefully. >> after opposition from police unions modifications were stopped. tawanda feels. >> i will fight until i have no breath in my body, and if i could reincarnate myself, we fight because i am my brother's keeper. my family love tyrone west, we are fighting out of love not hate. hate is what killed my brother. >> "america tonight's" adam may
here with us. i'm struck adam by your story yesterday and what you just told us today. the terry decision and what you did today, the law officers bill of rights, whether they will get justice. >> it's easy for media to paint osimple picture, that there's mistrust between the police and the community, because of incidents of police corruption or brutality. where does this come from? the former police commissioner of baltimore did point to police are in some ways the punching bag and in some ways they are only executing laws that have been put on the books by politicians. where is the accountability of the politicians in all of this? you look at some of these landmark decisions the terry v. ohio decision dates back to 1968. we have been living with the repercussions of that for decades. and that is what comments to francisco.
stop and frisk. what made them stop freddy gray? the look in the eye. >> the other element of your reporting the other day, you brought to us someone who witnessed away what happened when freddy gray was arrested, and a lot of what came from the prosecutor seems to back up his story. >> harold perry, a 74-year-old legally blind man, he heard plain as day, he couldn't see what was happening but he said he heard gray say he couldn't breathe and he had asthma. this was echoed by the prosecutor, mayor marin mosby, that that was the initial call he made requesting medical help and then there was half odozen additional requests for medical help when he was in the back of
the van and that's what led up to the charges, the way the officers ignored his plea for help. >> you heard marilyn mosby very swiftly moving to these charges. >> that's what surprised a lot of people, a lot of folks didn't know there was an independent investigation launched by her house using sheriff's deputy also going in their own direction. but there is some questions being raised about the speed of this while many folks in the community are happy that there is so much different than ferguson, there was no grand jury, it wasn't drug out forever, the answer came one day after the medical examiner's findings were revealed, she put this all together and indicted very quickly. then questions from the police
union they say they are moving too quickly, the police union say they should hire a special prosecutor in this case. >> you watched very closely obviously, the situation in baltimore right out front on that one. what is it about the dynamic do you think in that community that led to such a different reaction and different behavior on the part of the leadership, law enforcement and the prosecutors? >> you know i think that's something that's going to take real dissecting. scholars are going to have to ask, why was this so different? baltimore has a city that is predominantly african americans in strong positions of leadership, the police department is very diverse, the most obvious way we are seeing it, is the speed and the pace of this investigation. that law officer bill of rights those police officers had ten days in order to make their statements. some of them cooperated, one was
kind of a holdout but even after that law officer bill of rights, i spoke to the aclu, and they didn't believe that had any negative impact, this particular investigation, but they're going to make that in other cases. >> adam may, we'll ask you to stay with us. find out more about marilyn mosby after the break.
she's such a striking figure. what she had to say it was so quick. >> it's my job to apply those elements to the crime in order to make a determination as to prosecuted. this is a tremendous responsibility for one that i saw and accepted when the citizens of baltimore city elected me as a state's attorney and it's precisely what i did in the case of freddy gray. over the course of our independent investigation, in the untimely death of mr. gray my team worked around the clock, 12 and 14-hour days, to canvas and interview dozens of witnesses, view numerous hours of video footage, repeatedly reviewed and listened to hours of police have videotape statements surveyed the route, reviewed voluminous records and we leveraged the information made available to us by the police
department, the community and the family of mr. gray. the findings of our comprehensive, thorough and
independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiner's determination that mr. gray's death was a homicide which we received today, has led us to brief that we have probable cause to file criminal charges. >> few days ago who would have known her name? she is 35 years old. she is the youngest prosecutor sworn in to serve a major american city. she defeated kind of a surprise victory there in baltimore, some questions have emerged about marilyn mosby in this case the police union has accused her of moving too quickly, questions about money she took in her campaign from the attorney representing the gray family. some are raising questions about that but look what she says and what people in baltimore are saying, including elijah cummings, she last come from a
long line of law enforcement. >> she made a point of talking about that in her press conference telling everyone what her history was. >> a sense that she had to lay out her credentials so people would have a fair trial moving forward. she comes from a long line of law enforcement officers and she went threw troubling experience, 17-year-old member of her family was murdered. she was also touched by violent crime so marilyn mosby has seen this in so many different aspects. >> father, mother, involved in law enforcement as well as her grandfather as well. >> when asked a conflict of interest, she says no he makes the you laws, i enforce them.
>> she says i intend to prosecute, my office will take this to the fullest extent. >> the protesters and activists have applauded and she said she heard their calls for justice and then i am asking you to remain peaceful. that was a striking moment for her. >> what's surprising is a woman who had no elected office until a few months ago, this is her first elected office is there an indication that she could have a political future in the city? >> the mayor of baltimore is not doing well in the eyes of public opinion. let's put it that way to you people in all gamuts of the situation, are not impressed, wondering where was she through a lot of the crisis, why did she wait so long to call for help at the governor, the governor took
a little dig, saying we're glad she finally called us. what happens to mosby in the past in baltimore politics, the state's attorney office is the stepping-stone for the mayor's office. >> it wouldn't hurt her if she had those ambitions. >> this will have to be done in a fair way in the eyes of the community, a little bit of a political risk here, the fraternal order of police, their endorsement may lead to a candidate winning, but she may have lost that support moving forward on those indictments. >> thank you adam may. and anger rising against authority and the echoes of it on the city streets, now.
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>> as we keep watch over a city on edge, we also look to baltimore's long history and what role it has in what is happening now. racial diversity is a key to the city's past going all the way back to colonial times. but baltimore is also a city that has seen many flash points, shock the nation, to long time residents it wasn't a first. there was anger . flames broke out across the city. thousands stood guard. protests sparked by the death of a black man before his time. but that april was 47 years ago.
>> what did you think when you saw the fires? >> i thought here we go, 1968 all over again. >> in the days after the assassination of martin luther king, jr. when riots broke out in washington, d.c, in chicago in kansas city and here in baltimore, helena hicks saw her city explode. >> what was it like on the streets then? >> it was pretty bad. >> you were angry? >> people were not just angry. they were fighting mad. and there's a difference. they were ready to just beat up the enemy. and fire was one of the ways they chose to make that feeling apparent to everybody.
so they burned up everything. >> you can't miss the parallels between that april in baltimore and this one. dr. hicks saw it too. as clashes broke out this time in her old sandtown neighborhood. >> i said to people, thank god i'm this age because hopefully i will never see this again. i didn't expect to see it twice in my lifetime but i definitely don't want to see it again. >> a charm city native, a highly educated community leader, a mother. you might be surprised at her response to the demonstrators on the streets. >> i'm proud of those kids. >> proud. it's not that helena hicks condones rioting or looting, but nearly 50 years after her generation stood up for justice as more baltimore neighborhoods have emptied out and more
pofortd andpoverty and homelessness set if what kind of choices do these have? >> we keep painting over it. it wasn't as bad as 1968. but you see if you don't do anything about the systemic problems eventually they're going to come back up to the surface and you've got a whole other generation, like i was the generation protesting in the '60s, this is the young generation that's protesting now. >> a generation she says is just trying to be heard. the language political leaders use to describe them angers her. >> too many people have spent generations building up this city. for it to be destroyed by thugs. >> are the kids thugs? >> no, they're not thugs. thugs are people who are committed to violence. they weren't breaking any law. >> and those kids need to be out
there now? >> they need to be out there to say, if you're going to do something worthwhile for me, give me a chance. give me a decent school environment, and decent teachers. give me a decent place to live. >> to make her point, she takes us to the corner where she grew up. a few blocks from the center of the pennsylvania avenue protest. >> that's my house. i lived in that house. >> that was your house? >> you have my house! >> how does it look? >> oh, it looks fine and i'm proud you kept my house looking nice. >> some things have changed. since the '68 riot, homeowners have mostly given up. only a few remain amid the rentals. and some houses just stand empty. >> young man.
can i talk to you a minute? i'm dr. helena hicks. >> to get the real story of what happened here, she says, you only have to ask. >> i used to live in this house, 2302. i'm trying to get the picture -- other picture out that people are not thugs. >> malik graves and javon jefferson are eager to tell her what they have experienced. >> i've been chased by police and everything. >> for what? >> for nothing. >> because we're a young black male. >> i might look like drugs, if i gotta toos and joints and sweat pants i might look like a criminal to them. >> truth is they say, what happened on pennsylvania avenue this week didn't start with freddy gray's death. >> we're not just fighting for
freddy gray, we're fighting for people out here that die every day. for the same reason same situations, that don't get mentioned and that people don't know about. >> now, a stranger in her old community, helena hicks finds familiar fears. >> this is for our sons and daughters, parents what are they supposed to do? they know they have good parents. but you look at the color of their skin they are judged. >> hicks insists that baltimore is not a city without hope. >> justice for freddy, justice for freddy. >> what do we want? >> but she cites failure to bring justice for freddy gray, promises made decades ago, could plunge it into more chaos and raise doubt that baltimore will ever get past the legacy of its riots. >> let me tell you what i learned from 1968. after four days, you're sitting
on a powder keg. if you don't resolve the problem in the first four days, before you get to the seventh day, all hell is going to break loose. history repeats itself when you don't sit down and look at history and say, how do we keep this from happening again? it will quiet down for a while but you see, the problems are still there. >> voice of history. al jazeera will keep watch on developments in baltimore. and next week on "america tonight", we will look to a crisis developing in new york state, where the growing value of what is underground is now threatening the communities above it. can the boom in natural gas spell the end for homeowners? our story next week here on "america tonight". tell us what you think about all of our stories at aljazeera.com/americatonight. talk to us on twitter or facebook and come back when we'll have more of "america tonight".