Freddie Gray

If Freddie Gray's Knife Was Legal, Does That Mean His Arrest Wasn't?

Did police reasonably think he was carrying a switchblade?



Last week a lawyer for Edward Nero, one of the Baltimore cops charged in connection with Freddie Gray's death as a result of injuries he suffered in police custody, requested access to the knife that was the basis for Gray's arrest. Gray was charged with violating Baltimore's ban on switchblades, but Marilyn Mosby, the local state's attorney, says his knife was legal. She has charged Nero and two other officers with false imprisonment for arresting Gray without probable cause to believe he had committed a crime. Nero insists the arrest was justified and wants a chance to prove it by examining the knife.

Who is right? Maybe both. Based on the way the knife has been described, it did not qualify as a switchblade. At the same time, confusion on that point undermines Mosby's argument that Nero and his colleagues knew or should have known Gray's arrest was not justified.

Weapons Universe

Baltimore's ordinance defines a switchblade as "any knife with an automatic spring or other device for opening and/or closing the blade, commonly known as a switch-blade knife." By contrast, police described Gray's knife as "a spring-assisted, one-hand-operated knife." Knife Rights Chairman Doug Ritter and Evan Nappen, a Second Amendment attorney and the author of an upcoming book on knife laws, note that the switchblade ban was passed in 1950, while "spring-assisted knives (also called 'assisted-opening' knives) were not invented until the 1990s." There is a clear functional difference between these two kinds of knives: Switchblades have a "bias toward opening," so that releasing a latch by pressing a button or flicking a lever in the handle causes the knife to spring open. Spring-assisted knives have a "bias toward closure," meaning you initially have to manually move the blade by pushing against a hole or stud. "In a typical spring-assisted knife," Ritter and Nappen write, "the blade must be moved 20-30 degrees open before the spring takes over to finish opening the blade." 

Baltimore's ordinance refers to "an automatic spring or other device for opening and/or closing the blade," which in context means a device that allows the knife to open automatically, especially since the ban applies only to knives that are "commonly known" as switchblades. "Spring-assisted knives are not switchblades," Ritter and Nappen say. "They have never been 'commonly known' as switchblades, especially in 1950, which was over 40 years before spring-assisted knives were even invented." And if police really thought Gray's knife was a switchblade, why didn't they call it that?

Even if Gray's knife was legal, that does not necessarily mean his arrest wasn't. That depends on whether Nero's reading of the law, which according to The Baltimore Sun was backed by the police task force that investigated Gray's death, was reasonable. A reasonable, though incorrect, belief that Gray had broken the law would have given police probable cause for an arrest. The disagreement about what the law bans therefore could be enough to create reasonable doubt as to whether the officers are guilty of false imprisonment.

At the same time, the argument about what counts as a switchblade in Baltimore discredits the law that Nero et al. claim they were enforcing. Due process requires laws clear enough so that you know when you are breaking them. If it is uncertain whether spring-assisted knives are illegal in Baltimore, it cannot be fair to punish people for possessing them, regardless of your views on knife control generally. As I said last week, vague laws like this one invite abuse, handing police yet another excuse for harassing people who have committed no real crime.

Addendum: Fox News notes an excellent 2014 Village Voice story in which Jon Campbell explains how a 1954 ban on "gravity knives" led to thousands of arrests a year in New York City, frequently involving people who used the tools for work or other innocent purposes and had no idea they could be deemed illegal. State law defines a gravity knife—a sort of springless variation on the switchblade—based on a "wrist flick" test: Can the knife be opened with one hand by flicking your wrist? It turned out that was possible, though often difficult, with many folding knives sold openly throughout the city. Yet people who bought these knives at hardware or sporting goods stores could be arrested for possessing them as soon as they ventured outside—a risk that was especially high for black and Hispanic men.

A bill that would narrow New York's gravity knife ban to avoid ensnaring innocent people died in the state legislature last year but was reintroduced this year in the Assembly and Senate. It says "possession of a gravity knife shall constitute criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree only if the defendant has intent to use the same unlawfully against another."

[Thanks to Marc Sandhaus for the Fox News link.]

NEXT: Music Videos, Drugs, Whatever: The DEA Will Take That $18,000, Young Man

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. There’s no such thing as an illegal arrest. That would imply some sort of “rule of law” in which all citizens are equally subject to the protection and proscriptions of the law. Plainly, that is not the system currently in effect.

    1. “You can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.”

      Illegal arrest. Ha.

    2. Rule of Man!

    3. Obviously what is required is a whole slew of
      new laws regulating knives and creating at
      least 15-20 different categories of pocket
      knives with different penalties for each.

    1. One of the great movie scenes of the decade.

      1. I see you’ve played knifey-spooney before.

  2. Due process requires laws clear enough so that you know when you are breaking them.

    This must be one of those libertarian wishful thinking passages. I can think of all kinds of laws which are entirely unclear and can be interpreted by the officer at the moment of arrest.

    Currently in Washington we have a law that says any transfer of a firearm is illegal without a background check. No one knows what the definition of transfer means or what its limits entail. The State patrol says that it has a definition of transfers in it’s head but hasn’t iterated what that definition is to the public.

    All they’ve said thus far is that they’ll arrest you when you cross that limit.

    No go ahead, transfer away, we dare you.

    1. Even better is that you have no standing to sue until they decide to arrest you for an illegal transfer. Fuck you, peasant. Stay in your place until your betters decide what you will be allowed to do with your property.

      1. Part of the reason they’re being so cagey is that I don’t think there’s any way Initiative 594 could survive a court challenge. If they just start nailing people with it, it’s going to get challenged instantly. So they’re holding back and saving it for when they really want to fuck someone.

        1. Thi is what Rule of Law looks like.

          1. Yes, it looks like what it actually is: rule of man.

            1. Arbitrary and to his advantage?

        2. In the meantime, creating a desired chilling effect.

          1. Oh totally. This initiative is the slimiest, sneakiest, shittiest thing you’ve ever seen. It’s impossibly vague, they lied like rugs about what it would do, and it creates some of the worst gun transfer law bullshit in a state with otherwise excellent gun laws.

            It’s a total fucking piece of shit.

      2. that is so their law doesn’t get overturned,because they know people are reluctant to get arrested and risk their lives to get “standing” to try to overturn an unconstitutional law.

        Government has nearly unlimited power,time,and resources,they can delay,reschedule,and appeal until you’re bankrupt and have to give in,and then you go to jail and become a convicted felon for the rest of your life. they can also have the case tried under a sympathetic judge to get the ruling they want. And while the case is under appeal,you’re generally in prison.

    2. At least if you’re arrested, then you’ll have standing to sue.

    3. A huge problem with the current state of laws and regulations is the unbelievable levels of discretion cops and bureaucrats get. They should be sharply limited in what they can do, given that we already know that power over others is more addictive than ultrameth.

      1. And, there are so many screwed up laws and regulations that the cops can be sure they will find something to nail you with! That is what the book “Three Felonies a Day” talks about! They can keep the poor in threat of jail, constantly, and keep the middle class scared, shiftless, because a run-in with the law can ruin a career in a second! The elitists are getting their illegal (posse comitatus) police state. People should be aware that the reason the rank and file Democrats want gun regulation is completely opposite the reasons their elitist representatives do! The founding fathers warned us! Is the government turning tyrannical?!

  3. Perhaps this whole clusterfuck of errors will help people to realize that if they really want to curb harassment by the police they should get specific in their protestations and try to recall all the frivolous laws, like what kind of pocket knife you have, that police use to justify every pointless assault and shackling. I guess that’s asking to much.

    1. Yeah, that would be nice, except that all people take away from any of this is that cops hate black people. If we could just instill a proper level of tolerance among police officers then all the problems related to frivolous laws and poor officer discretion would simply vanish.

      1. White people wouldn’t stand for the kind of enforcement meted out to Black people. So equal enforcement would be an improvement.

  4. I’ve always wanted to know about the history of switchblade bans. I’ve heard many stories. Was there a racial component?

    1. West Side Story is a good primer. Punks were dancing with them and it led to too many injuries to Broadway performers.

      1. Actually, West Side Story is the reason. Seriously.

        1. I guess Terminator is the reason 30 watt pulse rifles are banned?

            1. I also believe it was a plasma rifle….

              1. a “40 watt phased plasma rifle”.

                  1. Just goes to show that Hollywood writers have no sense of scale.

        2. West Side Story came out in 1957, and switchblades were made illegal the next year. It’s not a coincidence.

          1. Actually, the first ban was proposed in 1954.

            1. And West Side Story scared enough people to get it to pass.

      2. Twelve Angry Men did it.

    2. The Socs used their privilege to crack down on the Greasers.

      1. This comment Stays gold.

  5. Anything the police think is reasonable is reasonable. Because they like swore an oath and stuff.

  6. I bet you a respectable looking white person could be caught with that knife in Baltimore and not be arrested. The cops needed to make some arrests to make their quota for the day and arrested Grey for the crime of walking while black. The knife was just the excuse. It could have been anything.

    1. They chased him because he ran after making eye contact. They didn’t find the knife until after they caught him and roughed him up for running.

      1. Just another iteration of the vocational sociopathy called policing.

      2. That’s what I thought too. So the knife can’t be the basis for the reasonable suspicion required for a Terry stop. It can only be the basis for the probable cause required to effectuate a full arrest. There needs to be more of a focus on the “reasonable suspicion” component.

        Generally speaking, I try and flee from savage predators. Apparently, by doing so, Gray gave them all the justification they needed for the initial violation of his 4th Amendment rights.

        1. This right here. If the search was illegal, then the arrest made based on what they found during the search was illegal.

      3. Once he ran, they were arresting him. They just used the knife as an excuse.

        1. Thing is, running by itself is not probable cause or reasonable suspicion. Not according to my understanding of the law. Not that the law matters if those tasked with enforcing it face no consequences for breaking it.

          1. I tend to think that if you see the cops and take off running that’s an indicator that maybe you’re avoiding arrest because you’ve done something illegal. If I see a tiger and take off running odds are good I didn’t just decide to go jogging and the tiger is mere coincidence, I’m running away from something and for a reason.

            1. The reason I’m guessing was that he’d had his ass kicked by the cops enough times that when he saw them he feared for his life and ran. Sure enough, his fears were totally justified.

          2. I was talking to a couple cops about that a little while ago at a barbecue. One was saying that if the cops knew Gray had a criminal history or had been informed by other people in the neighborhood that he was up to bad business, his running might have constituted reasonable suspicion. The other argued that even if it were true it’s too vague to count, and that the stop was illegal regardless. Both agreed that the knife was irrelevant and that the cops at a minimum had a positive obligation to keep Gray safe during transport.

            Neither of these were B’more cops, though, both are Feds. I was pleasantly surprised, to be honest.

            1. Just because they mouthed the words doesn’t mean they meant it, nor does it mean they would act any differently than those cops did. Remember that their trade is in violence and deception. Likely they were just telling you what they thought you wanted to hear.

        2. I would say that turning tail and fleeing at the sight of the police is going to meet the test for suspicion to make a stop. It certainly works at DUI checkpoints.

          Beating the everloving crap out of the guy, hogtying him and tossing him around like a sack of potatoes while he screams for help? Not so much…..

          1. It works at DUI checkpoints because piloting a motor vehicle on a public road is a privilege. Piloting your feet on a sidewalk is not.

            1. privilege does NOT mean you surrender your Constitutional rights against searches and seizures,thus in actuality,DUI roadblocks are unconstitutional,because they have NO warrant or probable cause for stopping you.
              Citizens are -supposed- to be able to travel freely,without gov’t checkpoints and “your papers,please”,and the inevitable 20 questions. (while they sneak their alcohol sniffing flashlight up to your face.)

          2. He wasn’t some jogger passing by. Gray was a well-known criminal in Baltimore. He saw the cops and he took off running. That was enough to justify chasing him down and temporarily detaining him. When they found the knife, which the cop evidently believed was illegal, that was probable cause to arrest him.

            1. RA, maybe cops should know the law?

              1. Ignorance of the law IS an excuse, for “law enforcement”. SCOTUS said so.

            2. If belief is all that is required, what about a person’s belief that it’s OK to run?

              1. You are assuming peons are remotely on the same level as the state’s enforcers in the eyes of “the law.”

            3. There’s been no evidence the police officers in question knew who he was. Fuck off, statist cop-fucker.

          3. Absent “something else”, running does not meet the requirement for a Terry stop. The issue is that “something else” generally comes out to mean “Anything else the police can think of”, like if it’s a “high crime area” or the like.

          4. Yeah, I forgot about the Illinois v. Wardlow case in 2000. “Nervous, evasive behavior is a pertinent factor in determining reasonable suspicion. Headlong flight – wherever it occurs – is the consummate act of evasion: it is not necessarily indicative of wrongdoing, but it is certainly suggestive of such.”

            Unfortunately, this doesn’t help much when even completely law-abiding individuals get nervous around cops because they know of their propensity for abusing their authoritah.

            1. Fortunately the Maryland constitution is more protective of individual rights than Illinois.

              1. For all the difference it makes. We have a dead body here.

      4. *”find”

  7. Has there been any information released as to exactly how the cops knew Gray had a knife, switchblade or otherwise?

    1. Yeah. The found it on him after they chased him down. And it was visible too.

      1. Barring Gray flipping this thing open and closed for all the world to see, there’s no way these cops just “knew” it was a switchblade (or one-hand-assisted).

    2. “Furtive movement”

  8. Police use vague laws as a tool, not a hindrance. When has uncertain legal interpretations ever gone in the favor of the civilian?

    1. Yeah, the problem starts with the idea that people who carry certain kinds of knifes should go to jail.

      1. Just study kung fu.

    2. “Crossing the fog line”

      “Wasn’t wearing a seat belt”

      Yeah, cops love chicken shit vague laws that they can use to initiate a stop. Then depending on what they find, they can further charge you.

      The worse thing about it is that everyone in the courtroom knows that when the cop says he pulled them over for crossing the fog line, he is lying.

  9. George Zimmerman shot in road rage incident.
    Even if the “other guy’s” fault, this dude’s pretty much burned through any ounce of sympathy he once had and he’s now operating off a line of credit.…..ary/nmDZj/

    1. You mean the press burned through any sympathy on his behalf.

      Also, depending on the circumstances, the press might even give him his honorary Hispanic heritage back.

    2. Very vague. I wonder if someone recognized him and took a shot at him.

      1. It would certainly be my defense in court. “I recognized him as a known shooter, and feared for my life.” The last clause are the magic words in FL. If you’re legally carrying, being in reasonable fear for your life is the only thing you have to prove.

        1. I’m not sure how bullet proof that defense is. I know it is a malleable defense, such as women claiming fear for life is taken at face value, more than a man claiming the same.

        2. the keyword and standard being “reasonable”,and no jury is going to find your premise as “reasonable”.
          Just because you recognized someone as likely being armed or a “known shooter” (idiocy) does not constitute a CREDIBLE and immediate threat to you.

    3. Unless Zimmerman held him down and was punching him in the face, it is probably the other guy’s fault.

      But, yeah, not exactly the model of behavior. But didnt we know that from the beginning?

      Illinois Nazis didnt exactly have any sympathy headed their way either.

    4. Yeah, each time something like this happens the more plausible it becomes that he actually had criminal intent when shooting Martin.

      Of course, the jury couldn’t and/or shouldn’t know about his history (including future history), so I’m not blaming them for their verdict.

      1. ???

        He stepped over a line when he confronted Martin, but that doesnt change the intent of the shoot.

        He is an ass. Who gets himself in dangerous situations. But that doesnt change anything about the Martin case.

        1. Again, the jury was totally right, it had no right to judge him based on reputation of what he did before, or crystal ball gazing on what he might do in future.

          And there was plenty of evidence he was getting his head bashed into the concrete at the time of the shoot, and even aggressive people with chips on their shoulders are entitled to defend themselves in that kind of situation.

          I suppose what I should have said is it’s plausible that Z escalated the confrontation – not enough to justify head-bashing, but enough to contribute to a volatile situation.

          1. I always thought Zimmerman was a scumbag, I just thought (and still think) that he’s a scumbag who you couldn’t possibly convict based on the evidence of that shooting – especially given that Martin was hardly a choirboy himself.

            1. Bingo. It was a near-impossible case for a prosecutor to win.

              Two guys in a fight where one was killed. The other apparently has injuries and a plausible story that he feared for his life. Circumstantial evidence that there may have been some reckless behavior on Z’s part leading up to the fight but no direct evidence or eyewitnesses.

          2. even aggressive people with chips on their shoulders are entitled to defend themselves in that kind of situation.

            Actually, not always. In my book (if not the law books), the aggressor cannot act in self-defense, ever. By definition of being the aggressor.

            Otherwise, you get a scenario where Person A goes to rob/rape/assault Person B.

            Person B pulls a gun in perfectly justified self-defense.

            Now, Person A is threatened by a gun and is in fear of their life, so they pull a gun and kill Person B.

            If it doesn’t matter who the aggressor is, Person A, the violent criminal who started the whole thing, walks on self-defense.

            1. In my book (if not the law books), the aggressor cannot act in self-defense, ever.

              There must be some kind of criteria where an aggressor is converted to a victim.

              Otherwise, women can fictionalize rapes and reasonably destroy their “aggressors” reputation/career/life.

              I can certainly see a, sort of, Bangkok Rules scenario, where the law throws up it’s hands and says “You’re all idiot scumbags so any killing that’s done is red on your ledger and black on ours, as far as we’re concerned.”

              1. “otherwise”?

              2. There must be some kind of criteria where an aggressor is converted to a victim.

                After the initial encounter is ended, sure.

                Otherwise, women can fictionalize rapes and reasonably destroy their “aggressors” reputation/career/life.

                What does this have to do with self-defense?

                1. What does this have to do with self-defense?

                  I misunderstood the nuance involved in the word ‘ever’. I understood it to mean ‘once a victim, always a victim…’ when the intent was more ‘by definition and in the overwhelming number of circumstances of self-defense…’.

                  My mistake.

          3. And there was plenty of evidence he was getting his head bashed into the concrete at the time of the shoot, and even aggressive people with chips on their shoulders are entitled to defend themselves in that kind of situation.

            Not to imply guilt/innocence of either attacker but, the evidence that Zimmerman was defending himself from attack was far more compelling than the evidence that Darren Wilson was doing the same.

        2. gets himself in dangerous situations

          This x1000. It’s well past coincidence now. How many brushes w/ the law has he had since Trayvon? …now I will admit that the latter certainly could have influenced the former, but damn, the dude’s a shit magnet at this point. And road rage that leads to gunfire? That’s rare enough to make the assumption that he played no small part, even if he was the one to get shot.

          1. The guy that shot at him is known for brushes with the law. Two DUIs? Trespassing?

        3. there WAS NO confrontation,Zimmerman was headed BACK to his SUV to meet with police (AWAY from Trayvon),and Trayvon had made it all the way home safely,according to his Miami GF’s court testimony,when he decided to BACKTRACK (~70 yards distance) and go after Z-man.
          That right there destroys any claim of self-defense on Trayvon’s part.

    5. The best is how multiple outlets are framing/spinning it; Zimmerman is said to have been ‘involved’ in a shooting.

  10. Here’s what I love about switchblade bans. Often they also prohibit utility knifes that open single-handedly.

    …And box cutters were never again used for violent purposes.

    1. In my state, any knife that may be opened with an outward motion of the wrist or has a thumb assist is illegal. So all the knives at home depot are illegal. It also means that the knives sold at fine Korean grocery stores everywhere are weapons of mass destruction.

      1. Do our CCWs make it legal for us to have them? I thought it did.

        Regardless, knife laws are a textbook example of vague laws used for whatever the cops feel like, and your example of technically “illegal” ones being available just reinforces the vagueness.

        When I was a kid you could buy anything at the flea market. We had throwing stars, switchblades, butterfly knives, throwing knives, you name it. I’m pretty sure at least some of them were illegal under CT or fed law at the time. No one cared.

        1. Florida CCW lets you carry anything legal, like tasers, billy clubs, knives, etc.

        2. No. Our license is a “concealed pistol license”. This was changed… Back in the 90s or late 80s to make it so people couldn’t carry other concealed weapons.

        3. So that means the insufferable pedants on this board (you know who you are) can’t carry their revolvers.

        4. North Carolina CCW only covers guns.

          1. Most do and many only cover pistols. Lawmakers down want people walking around with shotguns under their trench coats.

          2. Florida’s carry permit is a Concealed WEAPON Permit.
            you can conceal any weapon that is legal to be carried unconcealed.
            That knife could be carried unconcealed and still be legal.
            I’ve had cops stop me,ask if I had any weapons on me,and I pointed out my tanto “gentleman’s folder” clipped to my pocket (with thumb-assist),and the cop said that was legal,it was in plain sight.

            1. I like Florida’s better then. My license clearly states on the face “CONCEALED PISTOL PERMIT”.

  11. The cops could well be 100% guilty, but I’m not relying on the prosecutor to give an accurate narrative – she has motives beyond the impartial pursuit of truth.

    1. Much like every other prosecutor.

      The fact that this prosecutor is going after some lying scumweasels doesnt mean she isnt herself a lying scumweasel.

      1. Also, the existence of abusive cops doesn’t prove that these particular cops are criminals – though of course so far it looks pretty bad for them. But the media hasn’t exactly favored us with a detailed examination of the evidence.

        1. The existence of abusive cops is proof that there are no good cops, because good cops wouldn’t tolerate abusive cops.

  12. Simple fix–don’t regulate knives. That way, police don’t have to make what could be a disputed decision on the type of knife it is.

    By complicating the process, you’ve invited another judgement call that cops have to make. And that way lies error.

    1. Don’t regulate… Whoa, mind blown…

    2. My name’s albo and I want the streets filled with the bodies of murdered children. Don’t you know these foldable pieces of metal will take over your mind and make you all stabby?

    3. In other words, you want to make it mandatory for people to carry knives everywhere and use them to solve any arguments.

  13. I came across a new theory about Freddie Gray. I’m not endorsing it, just tossing it out as a possibility to be considered.

    Freddie was damaged by eating lead paint chips as a child, and lead can weaken bones. He was a heroin dealer and user. Before he was arrested he swallowed some heroin to hide it from the police. While in the back of the van he went into spasms, which caused the knocking sounds heard by the other passenger. He fell down and hit his neck on the edge of the metal bench, which caused the wounds. The fact that the medical examiner’s report hasn’t been released shows that the DA is hiding this information.

    (I’m not sure where the reported bolt wound on his head fits into this. The pictures I’ve seen of the interior of such police vans don’t show any protruding bolts that could cause such wounds.)

    1. He beat himself near to death in order to make the police look bad.

      How is that?

      1. Papaya’s been engaged in bizarre conspiracy theorizing regarding Freddie Gray for about two weeks now.

        “Before he was arrested he swallowed some heroin to hide it from the police. While in the back of the van he went into spasms, which caused the knocking sounds heard by the other passenger. He fell down and hit his neck on the edge of the metal bench, which caused the wounds. The fact that the medical examiner’s report hasn’t been released shows that the DA is hiding this information.”

        Boy, there sure are a million extreme accusations in this paragraph for which you have absolutely no evidence.

        1. Calm down, Irish. To “engage” in “bizarre conspiracy theorizing” I’d have to endorse them. I haven’t. I’m just looking at all possible explanations, because we don’t know exactly what happened. All we know for sure is that he went into the van seeming to be OK, the other passenger says he heard banging and did not report a “rough ride,” the van made a stop or two (I forget), and when he got to the police station, he was injured, and died a week later.

          I grant that it’s entirely possible that they stopped the van and beat him up, or that the driver hit the brakes hard, the other guy didn’t mention it, and Freddie did a header into a bolt that isn’t visible in any photos of similar police vans. (Maybe the Baltimore one was modified?) I don’t know, and you don’t know.

          When I am trying to figure out something like this, I like to consider all possible explanations, no matter how unlikely. Occam’s Razor is great, but it’s not a law of the universe. Sometimes unusual things happen, strange coincidences or accidents, etc. A guy with weakened bones cracking his neck by falling onto the edge of a metal bench isn’t exactly on the level of “UFOs did it!” as an explanation.

          You, though, and lots of others around here, should be wary of confirmation bias. Just because police abuse happens and you care about it a lot, does not prove this is a case of police abuse. Let’s not jump to conclusions. We shall see.

          1. To me, this is res ipsa loquitur.

            He died of a traumatic injury while in police custody. The question isn’t “Were the police at fault”, its “Exactly which cops were at fault, and what should they be charged with.” Was it intentional, reckless, or merely negligent? I don’t see any other options, based on what we know today.

            If they didn’t follow policy, and it seems pretty clear they didn’t, that’s per se negligence. If they didn’t follow policy because they wanted to give him a nickel ride, that’s recklessness. If they did it in order to injure him, that’s intentional. Anybody involved in this who knew about it and didn’t try to stop it is an accessory.

            1. I think there’s a big difference between “intentional, reckless, or merely negligent.” Yes, the police look to be at fault, to some degree. But that degree is still unknown. If they beat him up, that’s a far cry from the other extreme of “He injured himself in the van because he wasn’t belted down.” (I’ve read that the department policy about belts in police vans was in place only nine days before Gray’s arrest, for whatever that’s worth.)

      2. a suspect can damage themselves,by head-banging,get bruised and look beaten,and claim that the police did it to them,and win a substantial legal award against the city. it’s one reason why they use restraints and belt the suspect down in the paddy wagon.
        Gray -might- have started this,and then the van moved or braked while he was standing,and he fell,breaking his spine.

        the “parents” still have a valid suit,because police were negligent in failing to belt him down,as required by department policy.

    2. If there were a shred of evidence that he were in heroin overdose spasms, that would be everywhere in the media, and loudly trumpeted by the police and its union.

      1. And the cops’ lawyers would be in front of cameras 24×7 shoving this theory in our faces.

        1. That is a good point. Like I said, I was not endorsing the theory, just saying it is one. As far as I can see, all of the theories have one or more holes.

  14. OT:

    Remember last week, when the LAPD shot yet another unarmed man? And when, for once, the Chief of Police actually said the shooting looked questionable?

    Well, I know you’ll all be shocked by this, but the shooting was ruled to be justified by the LAPD’s investigation.

  15. I like the list of “related” articles. 🙂

    1. Which article did you like better? Was it: “How Martin O’Malley Helped Create the Baltimore Riots: LEAP’s Neill Franklin, “How Martin O’Malley Helped Create the Baltimore Riots: LEAP’s Neill Franklin”, or “How Martin O’Malley Helped Create the Baltimore Riots: LEAP’s Neill Franklin”

  16. Based on the way the knife has been described, it did not qualify as a switchblade. At the same time, confusion on that point undermines Mosby’s argument that Nero and his colleagues knew or should have known Gray’s arrest was not justified.


    “A reasonable mistake of law”, thanks to SCOTUS.

  17. Nero insists the arrest was justified and wants a chance to prove it by examining the knife.

    Did he not examine before arresting Gray?

    1. Hopefully Maryland knife law is sufficiently vague allowing for an after-the-fact justification. If it’s overly clear, then legislators are going to have to muddy that up… for next time.

    2. Did he not examine before arresting Gray?

      There’s plenty of footage of it on the officers’ body cams, right?

      /wishful thinking

  18. Have we heard what model knife it was? I want to buy one.

  19. Not an illegal knife.

    An illegal arrest.

    An illegal killing.

    1. If the knife was illegal, wasn’t the arrest also legal? (Not that I’m in favor of knife laws.)

      1. No. Because the knife was not in evidence at the original confrontation. All they had to go on was “running from police”.

        If it had been me I would have calmly walked past them. While making sure my belly wasn’t knotted. That sends out fear smells. And cops home in on the smell of fear.

  20. Unlike firearm prohibitions , which very clearly define ‘firearm’ and are pretty clear about restrictions (no possession by felon or by respondent in a DV protection or no contact order… Etc) at the STATE level (don’t get me stated on Feds), in all 3 states I have worked and in others where I have researched these laws


    … SUCK

    They are vague, sometimes internally inconsistent, often county / city places additional restrictions which get even more confusing and some are not even valid because the state law prohibits local jurisdictions from further restrictions as well

    They use squishy terminology that different people can easily parse differently etc

    Dirk, dagger, stiletto, etc

    A few are easily distinguishable as legal or not, but there is massive gray area and it’s bad policy to have vague laws since they invite LEO’s to be arbitrary in making arrests, and on the other hand, hesitant to make an arrest they should, due to fear they aren’t interpreting correctly

    Legislators should be making fewer laws anyway and have way more deference to knives , as tools for self defense!

    And if they can’t make the effort to write comprehensible well defined law, they shouldn’t be passing it at all

    1. In WA penal code, firearms are very strictly defined – within the same chapter where prohibitions are

      Otoh. Prohibited dirks, daggers, stilettos etc are not, nor are restrictions about HOW TO CARRY

  21. San Antonio has the stupidest knife law imaginable. You cannot carry a locking blade knife under 5 1/2 inches long. That means 99% of all modern folding knives are illegal to carry. State law says you cannot carry any knife with a blade over 5 1/2 inches long. So, in effect, if you carry a folding knife it must have a blade exactly 5 1/2 inches long. My cold steel espada fits all criteria. But I picture a faggot san antonio cop going, in a triumphal faggot cop way “This blade is 5.5001 inches long! You’re going to jail, scrote.” At which, 10,000 law and order republicans nod sagely at his wisdom.

  22. This is shining example of what happens when progressives write poorly worded and poorly thought out laws. Based upon the definition, the knife was illegal according to the ordinance because it is spring assisted and can be opened with one hand. However it is not a switchblade by definition because the spring only partially opens the knife unlike a switchblade. So like many ordinances and laws, they are up to interpretation since the definitions within are at best confusing. I spent four months attempting to convince the city where I live that my classic car that is 98% restored is not a junk car. However, the city ordinance states any car without a valid state inspection and license plates is a junk car. I registered the car so it has license plates, but have not finished rebuilding the engine because parts are not easy to find, nor are they cheap when you do find them for a 1961 Corvair. However, no inspection, junk car….. The problem begins and ends with the political idiots writing the laws.

  23. Nathaniel . although Stephanie `s rep0rt is super… I just bought a top of the range Mercedes sincee geting a check for $4416 this last four weeks and would you believe, ten/k last-month . no-doubt about it, this really is the best-job I’ve ever done . I actually started seven months/ago and almost straight away started making a nice over $79.. p/h….. ??????

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.