Imagine your son or brother or husband having his spine 80 percent severed, his vertebrae broken, his brain swollen, and him slipping into a coma. Imagine the emergency surgeries performed to attempt to save your loved one fail. Then imagine you know exactly who killed your loved one, but they are given a full 10 days before they have to tell you or anyone else on earth anything they know about what happened.
You are just expected to wait and wait and wait for answers.
Well, in Baltimore, that’s exactly what has happened.
On April 12, Baltimore Police arrested a perfectly healthy man, but he was in a coma one hour later and the police weren’t obligated to tell a single solitary soul what happened.
At the local level, the Maryland Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights says that when an officer is under investigation in a matter that could lead to disciplinary action, supervisors are prohibited from interviewing the accused officer for 10 days.The state law doesn’t make clear whether the 10-day period begins at the time of the incident or the time of the complaint stemming from the incident. House Delegate Mary Washington told CNN that the prohibition expired Wednesday (10 days since Gray’s arrest) and the six officers who were suspended can now be interviewed.
So, in other words, the six officers who were involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray have had 10 whole days to get every single minute detail of their story straight. They’ve had 10 whole days to communicate with one another to make sure every single aspect of their stories perfectly sync up. They’ve had 10 whole days to watch the news, to watch the cell phone videos of their arrest of Freddie, to study what witnesses say they did or did not see. While the family of Freddie Gray has been forced to suffer during 10 long days of confusion and despair, these officers have been on paid leave, able to rehearse every word they will deliver when the law actually compels them to speak on the record.
This is an absolutely unnecessary and egregious aspect of the Maryland Police Bill of Rights. Officers should be forced to record their perspective on events immediately instead of being allowed 10 days to get a story together that just so happens to perfectly navigate around every detrimental aspect of the law.
The list of police reforms we need in the United States is extensive, but we must now add to that list the that police should never be allowed such an extended time before they have to tell their side of the story in the case of a person they injured and killed.