The Undisclosed Podcast looks into cases where there are serious questions about the investigations by the police, evidence obtained and the resulting convictions.
For a look specifically at the series dealing with Gray’s death:
For over a year they investigated the details in the death of Freddie Gray. One of the issues they uncovered were the significant discrepancies in the reports provided by the officers involved. These include obvious examples of CCTV footage being tampered with, discrepancies in the timelines provided by the Baltimore Police, including discrepancies in the movement of the van in which Gray was transported and injured, and discrepancies in the official computer logs that should, in theory, record the actions of police officers from the time of their responding to a call, to their actions during pursuit or in dealing with a complaint, to their conclusion.
The Undisclosed does consider that these discrepancies can be explained by incompetence and lethargy and quote a former BPD Detective to that effect.
Unlike the Undisclosed investigators we place more emphasis on the institutionalized incompetence of the BPD but we agree completely that regardless of the reason(s) the discrepancies raise troubling questions and the possibility of institutionalized inefficiency and incompetence not only does not eliminate the possibilities for corruption but actually enhances them.
Divergent tracking numbers (the numbers are generated by the BPDs automated system and are used to keep track of events and reports) could be explained by lack of discipline but a lack of discipline can also be explained by an institutionalized disregard for professionalism precisely because it allows the police to engage in criminal and corrupt activities without fear of being caught. *1
For example, Undisclosed compares and contrasts the regulations for securing and submitting evidence in Baltimore and New York. The New York Police Department has a manual of over 100 pages on this issue alone. The Baltimore Police Department, in contrast has a file of approximately 20 pages.
ECU or the Evidence Control Unit of the BPD is loosely regulated with no set guidelines for how and when evidence is to be handled or submitted including when it should be delivered from a crime scene to the ECU.
On the one hand this helps to explain why it took approximately 12 hours for Gray’s property to be moved from the scene of his arrest to the ECU. On the other hand Undisclosed raises a series of troubling questions not only about the time it took for the items to be moved but, how and why two key pieces of Gray’s property became separated.
But, while these other issues are important and speak to the lack of credibility in the BPD, institutionalized corruption, the institutionalized lethargy of the city bureaucracy, the pre-modern atmosphere of the South,(to borrow a phrase, and keeping in mind that Baltimore is south of the Mason Dixon Line, it possesses: Northern charm and Southern efficiency) what strikes us as the most glaring and seemingly unanswered question is what happened to Gray’s cell phone?
The podcast mentions that there is a multi-hour gap (nearly 12 hours) from the time the phone was taken from Gray until it was admitted to the ECU. The podcast focuses instead on the knife and the controversy regarding its legality. (We will not here address the issue of the knife – was it as BPD continues to insist an illegal switchblade, or was it a legal knife which if true eliminates probable cause). Undisclosed explains that the knife (as well as Grays earbuds, state ID and $5) were delivered to the ECU separately from his cell phone.
What seems far more significant than the knife is the phone and for the following reasons:
In the week and days prior to the death (or if you prefer, the execution) of Freddie Gray, there were a flurry of stories regarding the use of Stingray and similar devices used by law enforcement agencies nationwide including the BPD which admitted it had used Stingray over 4,000 times in a eight year period. (from 2007 until Gray’s death in 2015).
While correlation is never causation the fact that one has to contend with is that 2 days before Gray was killed news broke that the BPD was engaged in a vast unconstitutional assault on Civil Liberties – specifically the 4th Amendment – through its use of Stingray.
For a look at Stingray and the controversy generated by its use see the following article: (It is, we believe, striking that the story about Stingray broke just before Gray’s arrest).
Given that Gray’s cell phone is unaccounted for nearly 12 hours before it is logged into evidence control one might rightly ask not only where the phone was during the day of his arrest but, what happened to it?
It has been suggested that Gray was an informant for the BPD.
No evidence has been presented to support this and the fact that it was hyped by Fox serves to undermine its credibility because Fox per their SOP was presenting it as a reason to doubt or at least cast doubt on Gray’s legitimacy – as a person, as a victim, as an example of the corruption and violence one expects of the BPD specifically and the police generally. How his being an informant does that requires one accepting the pretzel logic of bigots who traffic in fantasy and dog whistle hysteria rather than facts.
What is more relevant is that there is no way of knowing his status because the State Attorney in Maryland does not have the authority to demand that the BPD provide the information on who is or is not an informant. (for an in-depth examination of this and an outstanding profile of the then State Attorney see:Baltimore vs. Marilyn Mosby.)
Among the significant details described in the profile is the fact that Mosby asked the BPD if Gray was an informant. However, the BPD is not legally required to reveal the status of individuals in regards to being, or not being, C.Is (Confidential Informants). Further, the Maryland State Attorney is not empowered to issue Subpoenas compelling the police to release the information.
This allows the BPD to operate essentially as a gang – barely answerable to any authority and able to enforce its codes of silence.
For an example of the BPD’s Code of Silence see the following:
And so we are left with questions:
We know thanks to Undisclosed that the officers involved in Gray’s death made numerous false and misleading statements.
We know that the CCTV footage has unexplained gaps.
We know that the chain of evidence was compromised.
We know that the “witness” (the other rider in the van) gave one statement that could not be substantiated (He claimed that Gray was banging his head against the interior of the van but he was separated from Gray by a partition and could not see him. Further, and even more troubling is that per the New York Times profile, we know that when Mosby raised this issue with the Baltimore Detectives investigating Gray’s death, she was met with silence) and that he later recanted it. (He was, conveniently, subsequently found guilty of violating parole and is currently serving a 10 year stretch in Hagerstown).
We know that the request by the State Attorney for the arresting officer’s to hand in their cell phones was denied and that only one officer’s phone was submitted for examination and that it, of course, contained no relevant information.
We know that the BPD was using Stingray on a massive scale and yet despite that Baltimore was and remains essentially an open air drug bazaar raising three interconnected questions:
Is the tech inefficient ?
Are the Police incompetent?
Or, is the tech operated as advertised, and the police know exactly what they’re doing but, as the city remains violent and a vast pharmacopeia of drugs, one should rightly conclude that the police are, if not directly profiting from the drug industry, are indirectly befitting because it keeps them employed?
What seems likely are the following scenarios:
Scenario 1:Freddie Gray was an informant and was targeted by street cops who did not know he was an informant. (an issue raised elsewhere in media reports and mentioned as an example of the institutionalized incompetence and corruption of the BPD – in other words, the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing).
After he was taken to the hospital a detective who knew he was an informant requested access to the phone in order to wipe it clean of any evidence that could link Gray to the BPD and thus prevent further revelations about the use of Stingray.
Or scenario 2: Because of the revelations about Stingray, Gray was specifically targeted and his “rough ride” was a way to send a message. The “rough ride” got out of hand. Following the realization that Gray was seriously injured the Detective(s) who were running him as a Confidential Informant engaged in a cover up to protect themselves and as a corollary covered up Gray’s murder, but also to cover up their intention to nearly lynch him in order to send a message that informants had to be careful because Stingray had gone public. Once Gray was dead the issue for the BPD was not that they had killed him but rather that they had to hide their intention to scare him and by extension their network of informants and especially their use of 4th Amendment violating technology (which had led to the possible overturning of thousands of cases due to the illegal gathering of tainted evidence).
But then there is another possibility. Given the revelations about Stingray’s use it is important to factor into the equation the FBI’s insistence that even at the cost of dropping a case, local law enforcement cannot reveal the use of Stingray or its technological specifications.
So then, imagine a BPD informant who is either targeted or inadvertently targeted and has in his cell phone the names and numbers of Baltimore Police Detectives, dealers and other informants.
To what lengths would the BPD or the FBI go to prevent that information from being revealed?
Would they tamper with evidence?
Would they alter the CCTV footage?
Would they lie?
Would the FBI order the BPD to cover up evidence of a murder because a proper investigation would reveal their illegal surveillance?
And finally, perhaps the single most obvious and unanswered questions: Was Stingray in use in the Sandtown-Winchester area on the day Gray was arrested?
If so, was Gray’s phone targeted?
If it was recorded did the BPD/FBI have metadata or metadata and a recording of Gray’s conversations?
Was there a record of his number in the BPD/FBI database?
Was that record wiped?
And if it was wiped, who did it or ordered it to be erased?
Given the history of the Hoovers and the BPD the issue becomes one of credibility or…
Who you going to believe…me or your lying eyes.
The Ghost of Freddie Gray haunts Baltimore. It haunts America.
That is, if you have a conscience and fear for the fragmented remains of the republic and believe that mass surveillance is a catastrophe that amounts to the government declaring that they will have to destroy the Bill of Rights…
in order to save it.
*1 Undisclosed discusses a possible reason for the officer’s refusal to attach a restraining belt around Gray. BPD officers state that the space inside the van is so small that an officer would be endangered if they came close enough to a suspect to attach the restraint – thus exposing themselves to possible attack. Disregarding the ability of the officers to control a suspect one can consider the following: The van is too small and is antiquated. Why has it not been replaced by a newer van that can accommodate safety concerns? Because the city has no budget for new equipment. Why does the city not have the budget? Because the tax base is too small to provide the necessary funds. Why is the tax base too small? Because of the tidal wave of departures (i.e White flight and forced economic dislocation) that have left the city on financial life support. And why is the city still in such dire financial straights? Because it serves the power structure. The state leadership (republican and democratic) views Baltimore as a vast Black democratic ghetto (see demagogue and neo-fascist Trump’s comments about former State Attorney Rod Rosenstein) and the democratic machine sees itself as the beneficiary of one party rule over a fifty year stretch that shows no signs of changing. Add in the vast network of drug dealers and the fact that the city would collapse without the black market cash of the drug trade and Baltimore is essentially locked into a permanent death spiral in which it is a zombie neither alive nor dead but spasmodically jerking from one episode of catastrophe to another. In that sense the city is not only a sad example of failure it is a hilarious example of the inherent nature of American Kapitalism – utterly devoid of empathy and committed to the violent maintenance of a permanent underclass of wage slaves whose existence creates scarcity of goods that cannot be afforded which leads directly to the increase in the value of the stocks that represent the value of the material needed to produce the goods. In other words, if everyone could afford a house, real estate would have no value. Thus, a hundred and fifty years after Appomattox, slavery is alive and well.
For a look at the intersection of these events as they relate to the wider national crisis click the link below:
For a look at how the media are complicit in creating false narratives see this:
NYPD found guilty of violating 4th Amendment protections through use of Stingray.
If any further proof was need that the Baltimore Police Department has lost all credibility consider the following in which, at best they must defend themselves against the accusation of a murder/execution of a police detective who was due to testify against corrupt police officers, and at worst, must defend themselves against the accusation of a murder/execution of a police detective who was due to testify against corrupt police officers.