By Bill Hoffmann
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
"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
"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."
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
"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
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.