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Freddie Gray’s Knife – Why is Prosecutor Claiming Unlawful Arrest?

Freddie Gray’s Knife – Why is Prosecutor Claiming Unlawful Arrest?

Is Prosecutor Mosby correct that Gray’s arrest was unlawful because knife was legal?

https://youtu.be/74E2Rju3xkw

A new talking point claiming that Freddie Gray’s original arrest was unlawful has arisen, propelled by the claim yesterday by Prosecutor Mosby that the knife seized from Gray by police was legal to possess in Maryland.

As reported by the New York Times:

Ms. Mosby faulted the police conduct at every turn. The officers who arrested him “failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray’s arrest, as no crime had been committed,” she said, describing the arrest as illegal. Officers accused him of possession of a switchblade, but Ms. Mosby said, “The knife was not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland law.

These statements are remarkably insensible coming from someone who has attained the position of state prosecutor.

Mosby Issue #1: Spring-Assisted Knives Almost Certainly ARE Illegal Under MD Law

First, it raises a question of whether Mosby is simply facially incorrect in claiming that Gray’s knife is legal.  It has been described in news reports as “spring-assisted.” If that description is explicitly false and there was no spring assist mechanism, then it is likely that Gray’s knife was not unlawful.

If, however, it was spring-assisted then it certainly seems it would be unlawful under Maryland law.

The Criminal Code of Maryland,  §4-105, defines a “switchblade knife” as:

(1) a knife or penknife having a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or other device in the handle of the knife.

The way a spring-assisted knife mechanism works is that a spring in the handle of the knife takes over the opening of the blade after the blade has been opened a small amount by pressure applied to the blade by the users fingers. Thus, the statutory definition would arguablly apply to spring-assisted knives.

Clearly, if a spring-assisted knife falls within the statutory prohibition, and it has been widely reported Gray’s knife was spring-assisted, possession of this unlawful knife would provide probable cause for Gray’s arrest.

It is notable that Mosby has yet to address this issue of the precise mechanism of Gray’s knife.  This is an odd oversight, given that this issue would likely be determinative of her claim that the knife was not unlawful.

For those unclear on the mechanistic differences an assisted-opening knife and a switchblade, the video below may be informative (the first knife is the assisted-opening, the second the switchblade):

Mosby Issue #2: Jurisdictional Sloppiness

Second, Mosby’s statement reflects remarkable jurisdictional sloppiness, especially coming from a state prosecutor who works primarily in a subsidiary jurisdiction of that state.  As noted above, Mosby is quoted as explicitly stating that:

The knife was not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland law. (emphasis added)

The description of the charge brought against Gray explicitly provides that he

did unlawfully carry, possess and sell a knife commonly known as a switch blade knife, with an automatic spring or other device for opening and/or closing the blade within the limits of Baltimore City. (emphasis added)

freddie_gray_complaint 600

It is notable that it is not at all uncommon, particularly in “blue” cities, for cities to have substantially more restrictive weapons laws than do surrounding urban areas.  Anyone who has ever driven through the state of Maryland will have seen that there is a dramatic difference in social culture between inner-city Baltimore and the bucolic Maryland countryside.

Indeed, the City of Baltimore has adopted as an ordinance its City Code §59-22, which states in relevant part:

Switch-blade knives. (a) Possession or sale, etc., prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, carry, or possess any knife with an automatic spring. (emphasis added)

Thus (and again assuming Gray’s knife was spring-assisted, as widely reported), even if Mosby is correct (unlikely) that the knife was legal under Maryland state law, it would still arguably have been illegal under Baltimore code §59-22.

Mosby Issue #3: Weapons Possession Usually Illegal When on Probation

Third, it raises questions about whether the knife was illegal per se, or whether it was the possession of the knife by Freddie Gray that was illegal.  Gray was a convicted felon, and an examination of his criminal record suggests it highly likely that he was on probation when he was arrested and found with the concealed knife. (Anybody with definitive information on Gray’s probation status, please contact me directly.)

In my experience, it is an invariable condition of probation that possession of a concealed weapon of any type is prohibited.

Note that the explicit language in the Statement of Charges reads that Freddie Gray

did unlawfully carry, possess and sell a knife commonly known as a switch blade knife, with an automatic spring or other device for opening and/or closing the blade within the limits of Baltimore City. (emphasis added)

Thus if Gray was on probation, and his probation prohibited his possession of a concealed weapon, this unlawful possession would provide adequate probable cause for Gray’s arrest.

Mosby Issue #4: Misunderstanding How Probable Cause Actually Works

Mosby’s asserts that the police failed to establish probable cause for Gray’s arrest on the basis that she later determined Gray’s knife (the basis for the arrest) to have been legal.  As reported by the New York Times, Mosby claims that the arresting officers:

failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray’s arrest, as no crime had been committed.

This is simply not how probable cause works in the context of an arrest .

Here’s what probable cause does not mean: That the officer making an arrest has determined that the facts on which the arrest is founded are true to an absolute certainty, and that the arrest becomes illegal should these reasonably believed “facts” later turn out to be untrue or mistaken.

This should be self-evident by the inclusion of the word “probable” in the phrase “probable cause.”

Arrests often go uncharged, and charges are often dismissed, and defendants are even acquitted at trial, often based upon a later conclusion that the underlying facts which suggested a crime are untrue or mistaken.  None of these outcomes makes the initial arrest illegal.

When an officer makes an arrest based on an articulable statement of probable cause, that arrest becomes illegal only if the officer knew or reasonably should have known that no crime had, in fact, been committed.

In short, police are entitled to make reasonable mistakes, and such a reasonable mistake does not make the arrest illegal.

Such a mistake may, of course, make further prosecution of the offense impractical or outright unjust.  But that’s a completely different matter than whether an arrest was unlawful.

In the Gray instance, the arresting officer may in fact have been mistaken about whether a spring-assisted knife falls within the statutory prohibition on possession of a switchblade, or on whether Gray’s possession of the knife while (presumably) on probation was an offense subject to arrest.

But unless he actually knew or reasonably should have known either of those possibilities to not be the case, probable cause for the arrest existed, and the arrest itself was not a crime.

Again, if the officer was mistaken the arrest may be defective for purposes of further prosecution.  But this does not mean that an officer is limited to making an arrest only in circumstances where criminal conduct is a legal and moral certainty.

A society in which this were required, or permitted would be, I expect,  a society that most Americans would find an unpleasant place to live.

Thus, even if it turns out that the knife was legal and that Freddie Gray were legally permitted to possess the knife under the circumstances, if the police officer reasonably believed that either of these were offenses subject to arrest, and neither knew or should have known that this belief was incorrect at the time of the arrest, then there existed probable cause for the arrest, and the arrest itself is entirely lawful from the context of that officer’s conduct.

The apparent political theater in the announcement of the charges is getting growing criticism, reminiscent of what accompanied the George Zimmerman over-charging and politicized prosecution. Alan Dershowitz on NewsMax:

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense


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Comments

The indictments had nothing to do with “legal” proceedings. They are purely “political”. Most likely the opening of the campaign for Mosby’s next “higher” office. The question is whether there exists any adult supervision in the “justice” system in Maryland. Probably not. Most SLAVE STATES like Maryland are run on gang or tribal rules. IOW, money talks, bullshit walks.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Fiftycaltx. | May 2, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Mosby is Illegal (another Democrat Party Member).

    Stop Black on Black Crime – if you care about anything Mosby.

    Gray is the New Black.

    Snark Snark.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Fiftycaltx. | May 2, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Hear! Hear!

    RE: “Most likely the opening of the campaign for Mosby’s next “higher” office.”

    But the Democrat Baltimore Mayor, and the Democrat Maryland Governor must be removed first for her……..

    betty in reply to Fiftycaltx. | May 2, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    “The indictments had nothing to do with “legal” proceedings.”

    I agree, but I think it is an attempt at payback for their failures in Florida and Missouri.

    I hope people start to uncover the past and present corruption in Baltimore and leave these parasites no where to hide and no way to look honest people in the eye for the rest of their lives.

      Sammy Finkelman in reply to betty. | May 3, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      The probably corrupt previous mayor of Baltimore (also a black female) wants to run in the nect election against the new mayor who defeated her.

Gray was charged September 28, 2013 with distribution of narcotics, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, second-degree assault of a law enforcement officer and second-degree escape. He was found guilty of distribution of narcotics, assault and escape, while the other charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, suspended after 3 years served. It’s not clear when he was released from prison. He also received three years of probation.
———————————
If that’s true, deductively (and with a modicum of cyphering), Freddie was on probation until Sept., 2016.

    Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Actually, WAY past that date, since the probated sentence would have been handed down some time long after the charge was set.

      Sure, hence the uncertainty about whether Gray was still under probationary control. Date of the charge simply isn’t very helpful, within the context of a few years.

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      sequester in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2015 at 1:09 pm

      Gray was also out on bail for an assault allegedly committed on 3/13/2015. One must check whether Maryland Law or his bail conditions made simple possession of a knife unlawful.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2015 at 12:14 am

    I’m confused. If he got credit for time served, and had good time AND work time credits, it would mean he was released as early as a little over a year after his arrest if he was required to serve three years of ten. But that’s the best scenario possible. If he didn’t have work time credits he should still be in prison on an arrest made 9/13. A sentence of more than a year means state time, not county jail, and it means parole, not probation. Parole and probation are not the same. A parole violation for drugs and a weapon would probably have sent Freddie back to state prison, which would be a motive for both flight and a trumped-up brutality charge against the police – a bargaining chip, so to speak.

    Do you have more details about this? Links?

    pp.18-19 explain MD’s sentence diminution scheme: http://www.dpscs.state.md.us/rehabservs/doc/pdfs/2007_Inmate_Handbook.pdf

    Bruce Hayden in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2015 at 12:34 am

    Maybe I am just not used to this sort of thing, but the math is just not clicking. Gray seems to have been out, and reoffending, after serving only a fraction of his sentence.

Thanks AB. Your cogent descriptions of these situations are quite helpful to interested lay people like me. I hope you may have time in the summer months to review the up coming trial of the former/retired Tampa police officer Curtis Reeves. The former police captain has been charged with second degree murder in Pasco county Florida.

Da Dersh Disses Dysfunctional Do-gooders.

He got all up in the ACLU’s spit.

He’s right, of course. As I said elsewhere, this has Sharpton’s cloven hoof-prints all over it, and it appears this weak lawyer of a DA is being pwned by the Collective.

How many times has Sharpton been in the White House? And why?

http://pjmedia.com/instapundit/206117/#respond

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2015 at 11:41 am

    That’s “Al Tawana Brawley Sharpton.”

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2015 at 12:22 am

    My take is that Mosby and her hubby are extremely aggressive Collective ladder-climbers. I see them viewing themselves as the biggest power couple in the state in the next couple years. She will go after Hogan’s seat.

      Midwest Rhino in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | May 3, 2015 at 8:16 am

      and it probably works from the top down too … some in the White House hear from Sharpton and that BGI Krewe that there is an opportunity in Baltimore. So they make some calls, see what players are in the area. They do some face to face, then maybe Jarrett makes the call:
      “hey, deliver this case, do the “show trial” (they have a more BGI friendly term I’m sure) … and we’ll always have your back”. Kinda like becoming a “made man”, not so violent, much more damaging.

      Maybe the Soros groups are pulled in as it gains momentum, the new improved JournoList strategizes, all the pieces are put into action as a coordinated offensive. Then all the little trolls go out and flood social media with their talking points and hate … and 2+2 becomes five. heh

      Marilyn Mosby, it appears, is a hypocrite, an ideologue, and a political grandstander. It may well be that one or more of the Baltimore six deserves to be prosecuted. But Alan Dershowitz is right to be concerned that Mosby’s actions have nothing to do with “deserve” and that she wants to conduct a show trial.
      http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/05/marilyn-mosby-hypocrite-grandstander-ideologue.php

      Read the whole thing for the background on Miss Marilyn, and her MANY and varied positions on the same issues.

      Kind of a racial/political Kama Sutra…

    DaveGinOly in reply to Ragspierre. | May 4, 2015 at 1:34 am

    Sharpton is now agitating for nationalizing policing. That’s been suspected as the agenda item behind the sudden (and orchestrated) scrutiny by the black community of “racist police.” Planning to capitalize on what have heretofore been common, and largely ignored, events in order to promote the nationalization of policing could very well be the agenda item that’s been discussed by Sharpton and Obama during the former’s visits to the White House.
    http://www.breitbart.com/video/2015/04/30/sharpton-calls-for-doj-to-take-over-policing-going-to-have-to-fight-states-rights/

ManinBowlerHat | May 2, 2015 at 11:39 am

While I understand the cynical and political motivations behind the mayor of Baltimore and Ms. Mosby jumping on the mob mentality of rushing to judgement here (though I am mystified as to how Ms. Mosby is not recused due to an obvious conflict of interest in this matter), I am very curious as to why anyone would agree to serve as a police officer in this jurisdiction. As if there was not already a perception that they were not supported by the prosector’s office and city leadership, this case is a clear demonstration of that perception being reality. As with many things, one does not need support until one REALLY needs support. Obviously, at this time when the dedicated, well-meaning officers of the Baltimore Police Department need support they are not only not getting it, they find they are under attack from yet another quarter. A quarter which would reasonably be expected to be, if not supportive, at least publicly neutral.

Why, then, would any sane person subject themselves not only to the ministrations of unfriendly strangers but also to those of an overtly hostile city government? Law enforcement in Baltimore is incredibly dangerous work, done for low pay, in horrid working conditions, lousy hours and, largely, for an ungrateful populace. Where is the attraction to pursue this line of work in this jurisdiction? I applaud those who take up the mantle under these conditions, but I’ll be damned if I can understand why.

And what impact is this current media-fueled political hay-making going to have on those who would be the next generation of law enforcement in Baltimore? If I were a young person drawn to public service in a law enforcement context, all this political theater, conducted at the expense of the officers, would serve as a significant disincentive for me to consider a career in the Baltimore Police Department (BPD). Mind you, this is not a slight against the fine officers of the BPD per se, but rather an observation on the conditions under which they must serve.

Why would anyone voluntarily put themselves through this?

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to ManinBowlerHat. | May 2, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Mosby must be related to Obama – no?

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to ManinBowlerHat. | May 3, 2015 at 12:29 am

    “I don’t like ya’ ‘cuz you’re gonna get me killed!”

    Why in hell would anybody join the military with obola as CiC?

    BPD officers should be looking for jobs in other jurisdictions or a different profession altogether. Leave the bastards high and dry, and leave Baltimore for someplace better, which is most anywhere.

Issue #4: Agree as to the probable cause. But does the officers’ conduct rise to the level of bullying or harassment? This is what the Black community is complaining about. They could have radioed headquarters to check on probation status. They could have got a supervisors opinion on the definition of “switchblade knife.” (But sometimes supervisors are idiots, too.)

Issue #3: A legal knife is not a concealed weapon, probation or no probation. A legal knife is only a weapon if it is used as a weapon.

Issue #2: Bloviate (new word). Let’s examine the knife first.

Issue #1: Bloviate much? Not true: “Spring-Assisted Knives Almost Certainly ARE Illegal Under MD Law.” There is a distinct difference between a switchblade and a spring-assisted knife. States who have bothered to recognize the new technology have included this difference in new laws when they wish to outlaw switchblades and inlaw (new word) spring-assisted.

[Criminal Code of Maryland, §4-105, defines a “switchblade knife” as:

(1) a knife or penknife having a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or other device in the handle of the knife.]

This does not describe a spring-assisted knife, but is the classic description of a switchblade. Spring-assisted is a new technology unknown when this was written.

On the street, officers often do not know the difference or prefer to follow old standards and arrest them all, let the judge sort them out. Officer education and discipline is required.

But I liked your book.

    DaveGinOly in reply to LWP. | May 4, 2015 at 2:14 am

    I have had a decades-long interest in firearms and edged weapons, along with an interest in the law surrounding the RKBA. I agree with your analysis of the difference between a “spring-assisted” knife and a switchblade. A switchblade opens completely under the power of an operating spring, while in the spring-assisted knife, the spring does exactly what the name suggests – it merely assists in the opening of the knife, it does not deploy the blade fully on its own. Confusion between the two is similar to the confusion between semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons, or the conflation of the former with “assault weapons.” The only way a spring-assisted knife would be considered a switchblade is if the statute specifically included spring-assisted knives in the definition of “switchblade.” Although this would be technically incorrect, legislators can make definitions that say whatever they want (they can, for example, make an AR-15 an “assault rifle”).

    I don’t understand the concern that legislators have had for switchblade knives. Given identical, legal blade lengths, why is a fixed-blade knife that always has its blade deployed and ready for use (whether that use is legal or criminal) considered less dangerous than the switchblade, which is not immediately ready for use? (This is like the difference between a handgun with, and without, a round in the chamber.) Like many gun laws, many knife laws don’t make much sense from law-enforcement and public safety perspectives. (Switchblades are also flimsy compared to a well-made fixed blade knife. The switch has no tang, relies upon its locking mechanism to keep its blade deployed, is attached to its handle by a single pin, and has a thin, light-weight blade. Use and abuse that would break a switchblade will get nothing more than a sneer from a fixed-blade knife. Switchblades are “cool” and look sinister, but they’re relatively dainty and less capable than other types of knives.)

I don’t think the knife was illegal to carry under Maryland or City of Baltimore law. I also don’t think it fits the definition of a prohibited “concealed carry” item. However, it could be a parole violation. -Either way, these knives are close enough to a switchblade design that it would be reasonable for an officer to think they violated the law. As such, the charge of unlawful arrest is going to be very hard to prove.

    Not A Member of Any Organized Political in reply to TheBK. | May 2, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Why is Mosby defending indefensible “parole violations?????” for Gray?

    Ragspierre in reply to TheBK. | May 2, 2015 at 12:00 pm

    “I don’t think the knife was illegal to carry under Maryland or City of Baltimore law.”

    Did you get to hold the knife (incorporeal) in a seance?

      Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      There are an unusual number of cowardly aspholes down-thumbing in this thread.

      Wonder why they won’t post any…you know…thoughts?

      (Or is that asking more than they can manage?)

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2015 at 12:41 am

        Heh. A couple of them have posted their thoughts, thus visiting on us the process by which they carry out what passes for “thinking” in their world.

        They should be posting on Yahoo!, AOL or MSNBC.

    Ragspierre in reply to TheBK. | May 2, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    “I don’t think the knife was illegal to carry under Maryland or City of Baltimore law.”

    Did you get to hold the knife (incorporal) in a seance?

    Sanddog in reply to TheBK. | May 2, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Under Baltimore law, I could be prosecuted for carrying my Kershaw Blur, which is not what any rational person would consider a “switchblade” but most certainly falls under the very broad category as written by the city of Baltimore:

    Baltimore City Charter & Code

    § 59-22. Switch-blade knives.

    (a) Possession or sale, etc., prohibited. It shall be unlawful for any person to sell, carry, or possess any knife with an automatic spring or other device for opening and/or closing the blade, commonly known as a switch-blade knife.

      healthguyfsu in reply to Sanddog. | May 2, 2015 at 9:53 pm

      Yep…liberals put in overbearing weapons laws that push down on the public’s right to carry defense weapons (those that aren’t in violation of parole) and this is what you get.

      Policemen enforcing those laws, as instructed to by the liberal masters of the ebony tower.

The only thing that’s important is to determine how this guy ended up with a broken neck while in the back of a police van. That’s NOT the penalty for selling a switchblade while on probation.

    maxmillion in reply to maxmillion. | May 2, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    How in the world does this comment warrant 3 down votes?

      Ragspierre in reply to maxmillion. | May 2, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      “That’s NOT the penalty for selling a switchblade while on probation.”

      THAT is how. It is a stupid, specious statement. See?

      healthguyfsu in reply to maxmillion. | May 2, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      Not smart comment by maxi pad….If Freddie hadn’t ran, this never happens.

      Sounds kinda like if Zimmerman stayed in the car…doesn’t it???

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to maxmillion. | May 3, 2015 at 12:53 am

      Looks like you’re up to 14. Maybe put down the shovel and quit digging?

    platypus in reply to maxmillion. | May 2, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    It is apparently the penalty for being a stupid career thug criminal, though.

    DuraMater in reply to maxmillion. | May 2, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    OK, I’ll bite….I, too, am curious.
    Among the many sources of evidence yet to be made publicly available, I am very interested in the autopsy, complete toxicology AND the entire medical/ surgical records from the time of his admission to the time of pronouncing his postoperative death at the medical facility. The decision to remove life support on an ME case typically follows a rigorous protocol.

    I am curious about the ME assertion of “homicide” vs “undetermined” cause of death in this case. Multiple choices at most ME offices: Suicide, accidental, natural, homicide and undetermined. Perhaps “undetermined” was not an answer choice at this MEO. But it requires a level of certainty to classify a death as a homicide; evidence for which remains unreported.

    As for the subjects condition when he was removed from the van, all we know now (IF reported info is accurate) is that he was unresponsive and in cardiopulmonary arrest, with a spine and closed head injury. The condition of his spinal cord upon removal of the police van is not public knowledge. The pre-, intra-, and post operative management of his case should be scrutinized along with the evidence while he was in police custody. It is not unheard of for high cervical cord transection to be a survivable injury (albeit with severely limited quality of life). OTOH, management of cases complicated by cerebral and brain stem trauma would carry a more bleak outcome.

    While the subjects injuries may have been sustained in the police van and the most competent and heroic efforts of all those attending to him were insufficient to save his life, ALL data demands scrutiny.

    Additionally, I am curious about the dimensions and configuration of the prisoner compartment in the police van. Many are extremely small and so compact that it would be difficult for a second adult individual to occupy the space and not be at risk of harm from an irate, combative prisoner. The notion that LE should compromise their physical safety to secure the seat belt of this type of prisoner, or willfully engage in an altercation within the confines of this space should be challenged.

    Finally, the violent thrashing of the subject within the prisoner compartment reported by the other prisoner in the van, may have been a continuation of Grays willful resistance BUT could also have been a drug induced grand mal seizure. The ferocious force and diminished level of consciousness associated with this scenario is more than sufficient to propel him into unyielding metal appliances and explain devastating neuro-trauma. None of the officers involved in his detention, arrest or transport could possibly predict or intervene in this instance.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to DuraMater. | May 3, 2015 at 1:03 am

      You certainly earned your nic with that post. 🙂

      Thank you for the analysis.

        Thank you for reading. I have not yet adapted to what seems an accepted norm, that the objectivity of SAO is cast aside in favor of mob appeasing, knee jerk indictments.

        Given all the personnel and activities that transpired before removing life support from Mr. Gray, and the very real possibility that no one is culpable for Mr. Gray’s death, ie in the case of a grand mal seizure, whether drug induced or due to a pre-existing neuroencephalopathy, I find the actions of the SA stunningly irresponsible.

    MarkS in reply to maxmillion. | May 2, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    max, incase you haven’t noticed the commenters on this page are are pro cop no matter the circumstance. Yet to be answered is how did the cop have reasonable suspicion that Freddie even had a knife? And to your point how did one physically capable of running from the police end up with, after being under the restrained supervision of law enforcement, an 80% severed spine? Let any civilian restrain and sever the spine of another and charges would be applied, however, as I said the commenters here probably believe the cops story of self inflicted wounds.

      Ragspierre in reply to MarkS. | May 2, 2015 at 3:38 pm

      This from the idiot who posts that NYC LEOs “murdered” puuurrrr ol’ Mr. Garner.

      Never mind that many of us here came out vigorously against Officer Wassis who shot and killed Mr. Scott, or the Victoria LEO who man-handled and tazed the old man.

      MarkS is ANTI-cop, and generally full of shit. I would bet a Ronulan (Ron Paul freak).

        MarkS in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2015 at 6:33 pm

        It would enhance the conversation if you could argue your point with facts instead, as is your wont, resorting to sand box level name calling. And just so you know, I’m in good company with my opinion that the cops killed Eric Garner, Judge Andrew Napolitano, for one. As for me being anti cop, I’m anti cops violating citizens rights and due process and with a few seconds on Google you will find that Baltimore has paid handsomely for it’s police dept. antics from excessive force to planting drugs on suspects. So, I’ll repeat: Seems curious to me that a physically capable man ends up dead from an 80% severed spine all while under the restraint and close supervision of Baltimore’s finest.

          Barry in reply to MarkS. | May 2, 2015 at 10:39 pm

          When my sons were in HS sports, a football player friend was running along the seashore, stepped in a small depression and fell. He is now a quadriplegic, having broken his neck severely. Had there not been a EMT sunbathing nearby he would have died on the spot.

          Injuries such as this can occur rather easily. Humans are both tough as hell and fragile at the same time.

          I do not know what happened, but it is certainly plausible the injury occurred as the result of a violent criminal banging around, or standing at the same time some change in the motion of the vehicle occurred.

        Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2015 at 7:18 pm

        Yep. You’re an idiot, all right.

        I note you don’t deny the Ronulen sobriquet, either. In fact, you expand on it with the Judge Nutty Napolitano reference. Radical libertarians.

        You keep chanting the “80% severed spine” trope, too. That’s ONLY from the Mushroom Media, and they just repeated it from the plaintiff’s lawyer who also told the lie that his larynx was crushed. Why aren’t you aping that lie, too?

        It’s actually pretty easy to incur that kind of injury. Ask anyone who’s been rendered a para- or quadriplegic playing sports or diving into a pool. It does not require a whole lot of force.

        And a “few seconds Googling” will reveal that there isn’t a major (or mid-sized) city that has not paid out huge sums in settlements for cases involving their police departments. Some were even justified.

        But you’re willing to paint people who did nothing remotely criminal…or even wrong…as great monsters of civil rights out of that bucket of bullshit.

        And I’m willing to call you on it.

      Phillep Harding in reply to MarkS. | May 2, 2015 at 3:46 pm

      I don’t see how the police would be able to cause the damage they are accused of considering what has been said about Gray’s transport.

      I’m also having trouble seeing how Gray could have damaged himself.

      Time to wait and see.

        It’s kinda SOP for cops to place their knee in a suspects back to subdue and immobilize. Still, what would a handcuffed suspect have to do to sever his spine?

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Phillep Harding. | May 2, 2015 at 7:27 pm

        One rumor has Gray swallowing drugs while running from the police. If that turned out to be the case, can you see him having strong enough seizures to cause neck damage?

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Phillep Harding. | May 3, 2015 at 1:16 am

        If these six cops from several different beats and duty assignments were all out to get Freddie or to deliberately neglect him so he would suffer or die, which really would be necessary for this to have transpired the way Mosby said, there would be conspiracy charges. There aren’t any.

      Barry in reply to MarkS. | May 2, 2015 at 10:44 pm

      BS, many of us have called out cops for bad and criminal behavior.

      It’s simply unknown at this point what the truth in this case is. One thing I am certain of, the arrest and charges are BS at this point. Doesn’t mean the cops are innocent, but there is no known evidence to support such quick action. Perhaps there is evidence unknown, but why do I get the feeling that if that were the case, the administration commies of Baltimore would have it out there?

      Because they would.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Barry. | May 3, 2015 at 1:22 am

        I don’t KNOW exactly what took place, either, but I have an experienced and educated opinion about what likely took place. The bottom line is there is far more reason to believe the officers are innocent of these charges than there is reason to believe they are guilty of anything whatsoever.

          “The bottom line is there is far more reason to believe the officers are innocent of these charges than there is reason to believe they are guilty of anything whatsoever.”

          I don’t know how you reach your “bottom line”. What I do know is that there are some bad cops, there are cops that make mistakes, and the prosecutor is full of shit. Absent further unknown evidence it’s impossible to know the truth at this point, other than something happened. I don’t think the officers should have been charged based upon what we know, but I have no idea if they are innocent, made some mistake, or willfully caused harm.

          The arrest is nothing more than politics at this point. It does not however, mean they are innocent.

          Bruce Hayden in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | May 3, 2015 at 5:33 pm

          The arrest is nothing more than politics at this point. It does not however, mean they are innocent.

          And, that is why I think that it was wrong. It gives the impression that the state prosecutor indicted for her own personal advancement. Others here have suggested that she and her husband are likely going to be the new Baltimore power couple, and may ultimately be running for governor. Advancing that is not a good reason to indict six officers for major felonies.

          Note – I could be wrong, and she could have actually had sufficient evidence to believe that she could prove all of the elements for all of the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, which is close to what the standard is supposed to be. But, I just don’t think that they have had enough time for that much investigation.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | May 3, 2015 at 6:50 pm

          Barry, I reached an opinion as of this point in time, which should be clear as a bell o anyone with average reading comprehension. I could give you a two-page dissertation on why I think what I think as of now. But, because it is an opinion only of now, I won’t bother and it’s why I didn’t bother in the first place.

          There has been nothing presented to cause me to think there was wrongdoing by the police. Since you like living among the ranks who think if somebody is charged, there MUST be something “there”, you only prove your own gullibility.

          ***********

          Bruce, I agree. Mosby, along with her troops and associates, have nothing. Whatever they think they have has been distorted and massaged or they’d be leaking it like a sieve by now.

          This is what you said:

          “…but I have an experienced and educated opinion about what likely took place. The bottom line is there is far more reason to believe the officers are innocent of these charges than there is reason to believe they are guilty of anything whatsoever.”

          I’ve not said they’re guilty and I have said the prosecutor is acting politically.

          There are however certain facts that cannot be ignored. The guy suffered the injury in police custody. It would not be the first time cops have caused such injuries, be it by accident or being overzealous. You state you have an “experienced and educated opinion” that leads you to think they are innocent. I will not dispute they are innocent of the charges. But to use your wording, I’m not “gullible” enough to believe there is no way they could be at fault.

      Milhouse in reply to MarkS. | May 3, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      Nobody has claimed they had reasonable suspicion that he had a knife — that would be silly. They had a reasonable suspicion that he had done something wrong; the fact that he was known to them as a criminal, and that he ran as soon as he saw them, was enough for that.

      The knife is only relevant for probable cause for arrest. If the DA is correct that it’s a legal knife, then the arresting officers are indeed guilty of false arrest; contra Branca, it is a policeman’s job to know the law before enforcing it. The recent Hein decision doesn’t change that. For one thing, it only says a reasonable mistake of law can contribute to the reasonable suspicion that justifies a stop; it does not say it can also contribute to probable cause for an arrest. Second, even if it had said that, this is not a reasonable mistake. The majority opinion said clearly that a cop could not get any advantage from a sloppy reading of the statute, and Justice Kagan was more precise: a reasonable mistake of law means that the statute is so ambiguous that even judges have to work to figure out what it means.

      If it’s true that 80% of his spine was severed, that would be bad for the cops. But what basis have you got for that figure? How do you know it was 80% and not, say, 10%? As far as I know the only source for that is the family’s lawyer, which is to say it has no reliable source at all. So why are you assuming it’s true?

        Ragspierre in reply to Milhouse. | May 3, 2015 at 6:45 pm

        I sometimes despair for you, Milhouse.

        “The knife is only relevant for probable cause for arrest. If the DA is correct that it’s a legal knife, then the arresting officers are indeed guilty of false arrest…”, blah, blah, blah, bla, bla.

        Nope. There is no such “crime” to be guilty of as “false arrest”. It is a tort, for which one can be sued.

        And the idea that LEOs cannot make a reasonable mistake in the field is loopy, as you just proved. You’re supposed to know the flucking law, RIGHT? Yet you just pwnd yo-sef.

          Milhouse in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2015 at 6:54 pm

          Policemen are expected to know the flucking law, before they try enforcing it. And arresting someone for an offence that doesn’t exist is a crime. False imprisonment, if you want to get technical.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2015 at 7:00 pm

          Well, that ought to be easy for you to put a link up for.

          From the Maryland code, please.

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2015 at 7:40 pm

          HEIEN v. NORTH CAROLINA
          Syllabus

          Mistakes of law are no less compatible with
          the concept of reasonable suspicion, which arises from an understanding of both the facts and the relevant law. Whether an officer is reasonably mistaken about the one or
          the other, the result is the same: the facts are outside the scope of the law. And neither the Fourth Amendment’s text nor this Court’s precedents offer any reason why that result should not be acceptable when reached by a reasonable mistake of law.

          More than two centuries ago, this Court held that reasonable mistakes of law, like those of fact, could justify a certificate of probable cause.
          United States v. Riddle, 5 Cranch 311, 313.
          __________________________________________________

          Ergo, an arrest AND a prosecution. And NOBODY commits a crime.

          You need to review your reading, cat.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to maxmillion. | May 3, 2015 at 12:49 am

    Looks like you’re up to 14. Maybe put down the shovel and quit digging?

MouseTheLuckyDog | May 2, 2015 at 11:54 am

then it is likely that Gray’s knife was not unlawful.
This is or borders on being double negative. In any case it is confusing, so should be modified.

MouseTheLuckyDog | May 2, 2015 at 12:14 pm

I made this comment yesterday but for some reason it seems it didn’t get posted.

Surfing between sporting events on the radio yesterday, I stopped on the Mark Levin show for the few minutes I could listen without getting a headache. He madean interesting point: Apparently the policy of securing ( with a seatbelt ) a prisoner in a van was only instituted three or four weeks ago. The prosecutor made a big deal of Gray being unseatbelted.

    platypus in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | May 2, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    The prosecutor has a time travel machine that she uses to make her stories work.

    gmac124 in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | May 2, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    One of the earlier columns stated that the seat belt use policy was instituted 3 days prior to this incident. What we don’t know is when it was disseminated.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | May 3, 2015 at 1:34 am

    The policy had only been announced a couple days before Freddie’s arrest. According to some officers, they had not even seen the policy nor even knew about it.

    When an officer places or assists a prisoner into a paddy wagon, that prisoner is facing the officer once the prisoner is seated. If an officer’s hands are busy trying to get the seatbelt straps lined up, buckled and so forth, he or she has no means to defend him or herself against kicks to the groin, bites, spit, headbutts, etc., from a fighting prisoner. It’s a bad policy because it’s unsafe for the officer, and you can’t fit two officers into that tight compartment with a thrashing prisoner for one to control/restrain the prisoner’s movements while the other is trying to buckle him in. Female prisoners can be just as unruly as male prisoners.

MouseTheLuckyDog | May 2, 2015 at 12:26 pm

I think something that is missed here is that a knife does not have to be a switch blade to be illegal. Shape and nature of blade, length are often things mentioned in local statutes. Other factors also apply, for example, in most jurisidictions butterfly knifes are not switchblades but are illegal .

A little O/T Andrew, but I was wondering if you could comment on this?

(Excellent work, BTW, on helping the laypeople understand the legalities and illegalities of the Gray circus.)

EXPLOSIVE – The Curious Case Of Freddie Gray’s Paddy Wagon Companion – Baltimore Prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, Manipulating The Media

http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2015/05/02/explosive-the-curious-case-of-freddie-grays-paddy-wagon-companion-baltimore-prosecutor-marilyn-mosby-manipulating-the-media/

Midwest Rhino | May 2, 2015 at 1:00 pm

This is Megyn with a guy they claim is an officer (who works with these guys) that has talked with three of the cops involved, including the driver.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfeeFYYJZYI

He says they were surprised to find out, at the station, that he was not responsive, and injured. They say he was a “snitch” basically, or that he helped them a few times. That was part of the explanation for why he made such a big deal of resisting, since no one wants to look like a snitch to the public. Says “Freddie” helped the police on many crimes.

Hannity had a guy on too, different guy I think, saying they observed a sale of some sort, almost certainly drugs since it was where they knew he sold. So they run and toss (or swallow) the drugs, and they can only charge them for something else (the knife) if they don’t recover the drugs.

    Ragspierre in reply to Midwest Rhino. | May 2, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    I find the comments fascinating.

      Midwest Rhino in reply to Ragspierre. | May 2, 2015 at 2:27 pm

      Seems like most of the bigger sites like YouTube or Yahoo that have comments, are home to SJW idiots, and probably some Soros funde nuts that post everywhere. They really hate Fox News … can’t defy “the narrative”. heh

      I’m guessing Fox would verify these guys/gals were actually cops … wouldn’t be hard. They strike me as genuine.

      Barry in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2015 at 1:22 am

      With that comment I had to go and read the mentioned comments.

      Thanks. A lot.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Midwest Rhino. | May 3, 2015 at 1:43 am

    I watched both interviews twice. I have zero doubt that they were both real BPD cops.

      Ragspierre in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | May 3, 2015 at 9:24 am

      Coupla thangs…

      1. it isn’t even SLIGHTLY hard for a Fox producer to verify that someone is a Baltimore cop. Those were cops.

      2. this is a war. There is battle-ground prep to be done by BOTH sides here.

      3. remember how significant Wilson’s girlfriend was in countering the lying narrative about his shooting of Brown.

      4. the cops on those shows were not NECESSARILY truthful.

      5. Hannity and Kelley were NOT being anything BUT good reporters, presenting NEWS (i.e., they didn’t filter this information for us, they just provided it).

First of all, the knife is a red herring thrown out by the SA to attempt to justify these charges. It really has no basis on the case. Why? Qualified immunity.

If the officers reasonably believed that the knife in question was prohibited under Baltimore city codes and they conducted the stop, frisk and arrest under department guidelines and established procedures, they are likely entitled to qualified immunity, in this case. It would attach to any of the officers who did not directly participate in killing Gray. and, no evidence was presented which indicated that anyone intentionally killed Gray or even caused his death. Unless the prosecutor can identify a single person as actually having killed Gray, this whole case is going down the tubes. And, even a novice SA should know that.

This is all political theater, just as the case in Charleston was.

    Bruce Hayden in reply to Mac45. | May 2, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    Haven’t looked up the MD murder statutes yet (I am sure that a lot of us will before the end), but the one officer is charged with 2nd degree murder, which often only requires extreme indifference – that he exhibited a depraved heart/mind. The intent requirement there is presumably that he engaged in the indifferent behavior, and not that he intended to kill Gray – which he presumably did not, because then he would have been charged with 1st Degree Murder. The indifferent behavior would presumably have been driving the unseatbelted Gray in a manner where it was likely (but not certain) that he be injured a bit.

      Bruce Hayden in reply to Bruce Hayden. | May 2, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Looking a bit at the MD statutes, it isn’t clear to me what 2nd Degree Murder requires. The statute essentially says that it is murder that isn’t 1st degree murder. And, 1st degree murder is murder that falls into at least one of a list that includes premeditation, laying in wait, using poison, etc. But, I couldn’t find a legal definition of “murder”. I am sure that it is defined somewhere, if no where else, in the case law. All that I can say so far is that if it was murder, then it was 2nd degree, since it doesn’t appear to fall into one of the 1st degree classes. But, not sure if the alleged actions qualify as murder. I should note that the MD statute on manslaughter is no better – it just states the penalty for manslaughter, without bothering to define what the requisite elements are.

      Sammy Finkelman in reply to Bruce Hayden. | May 3, 2015 at 2:53 pm

      No, it would be checking up on him several times, and one time even finding him unresponsive (that’s the charge) and even asking him if he wants a medic and getting a yes answer, twice, and still continuing to follow his original orders to take Freddie Gray to central booking, except even that he delayed even that by choosing to respond to another complaint – that’s where he got the other prisoner.

      But this is the opposite maybe of depraved indifference to human life, since he kept checking his
      condition so often. Obviously, to see how badly he was injured and to determine if medical treatment could be postponed.

      The driver was the only policeman in the van at the time Fredie Gray is resumed to have been injured (the medical examiner claims he has proof of how he got injured)

      If there is anyone who had depraved indifference to human life it’s whoever created conditions in that department that made policemen afraid to seek medical attention for a prisoner, so that they would do it only if they absolutely had to.

    A Thinker in reply to Mac45. | May 2, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Your on the right track, Mac, but the next step is to figure out who goes where in the timeline. Three officers were involved in the stop/arrest. Rice, Miller, and Nero. Three officers were involved in the transport. Goodson, Porter, and White. If Rice, Miller, and Nero had probable cause to arrest Gray, then the only people who could be charged WERE ALL BLACK!
    Miller and Nero are only charged with crimes related to the arrest, not the death of Gray. Rice is the oddball case, as he was apparently at the van on the third stop (fourth?) after Gray was placed in the wagon. For that, he was charged with manslaughter. This was the same stop at which White and Porter “checked” on Gray’s condition, for which they have both been charged with manslaughter.
    If the knife was spring assisted, as reported, then at worst, the arresting officers made a mistake, unless there is evidence that all three absolutely knew that this particular knife was legal.
    At least Miller and Nero, and probably Rice, were charged so that there would be white defendants.
    The officer most screwed over was Porter, all he did was look in the van while with Sergeant White, who as a supervisor was responsible for the determination that medical assistance wasn’t needed (the supervisor is obviously responsible for the decision, whether Porter recommended no medical, or White made the determination by herself). For that, he was charged with manslaughter. Why? Because if looking in the van at the stop wasn’t enough to be criminally charged, then Rice would also only be up on the false arrest charge, i.e., whether sufficient probable cause existed because of the type of knife, and there would have only been black defendants.

FTR:

Here’s Gray’s arrest record back to 2012.

For all 18 arrests go to: http://nation.foxnews.com/2015/04/30/freddie-gray-arrest-record-criminal-history-rap-sheet

March 20, 2015: Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance
• March 13, 2015: Malicious destruction of property, second-degree assault
• January 20, 2015: Fourth-degree burglary, trespassing
• January 14, 2015: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance, possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute
• December 31, 2014: Possession of narcotics with intent to distribute
• December 14, 2014: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance
• August 31, 2014: Illegal gambling, trespassing
• January 25, 2014: Possession of marijuana
• September 28, 2013: Distribution of narcotics, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, second-degree assault, second-degree escape
• April 13, 2012: Possession of a controlled dangerous substance with intent to distribute, unlawful possession of a controlled dangerous substance, violation of probation

    gasper in reply to wyntre. | May 2, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    What would be interesting would be to know how Gray behaved during these arrests. Was it similar to how he acted in this final incident? Police see the dregs of society and they saw this person on more than one occasion, possibly including the some of the six officers involved in this. They could have known what he was capable of and what lies he would tell based on past behavior. Don’t know that for sure, but I think at some point the police just tune out all the hollering – they’ve heard it all before. They most likely view complaints of pain as someone trying to con them.

Midwest Rhino | May 2, 2015 at 1:25 pm

This is the Hannity interview with another officer, says he’d probably be fired if they knew who he was. Sounds legit to me, but I don’t know much about police procedure. Says this is maybe the biggest drug market spot on the East coast, this four block area. Say preliminary toxicology report tested positive for heroin and marijuana.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JbSfw7u7QPo

    I suspected there’d be more to the story, one way or another. No matter how you slice it, the knife thing sounds thin. But if he was a snitch then thin is A-OK…

    Though as a legal, knife rights issue, the sloppiness is most disturbing.

      Midwest Rhino in reply to JBourque. | May 2, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      Well if that is the same alley where Freddie had been caught and arrested and convicted for drug possession and sales, and they observed him making a transaction then running … then it seems pretty clear what Freddie was still up to. So if they have him on an illegal knife and he dumped the drugs, that is not thin.

      I’ll leave it up to the experts to decide if the knife had a spring and strictly qualified … sounds like it did, in the city. Mosby’s prepared statement carefully noted state law, and clearly she was playing to the crowd.

      This sounds like the Obama method of publicly lying to the crowd for the news cycle, then facts (e.g. Benghazi video a lie from the start) come out later but news cycle is over. In the debates Obama and Crowley say he did call it “terrorism”. It seems he deliberate to leave that confusion for later, but tell the big lie up front. It’s just another version of “depends on the meaning of the word is”. Clever Mosby can say her statement was “true”, despite being misleading and not relevant. Or maybe she is just dumb.

      Same with hands up don’t shoot … bold statement heralded as truth, after riots and elections, the corrections are buried on page nine. “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Fantastic analysis!

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter

“(1) a knife or penknife having a blade that opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or other device in the HANDLE of the knife.” [emphasis mine]

This is how the law works where I live, and perhaps it works the same way in Maryland:

A legal knife can have a spring-assisted opening mechanism as long as the knife can only be opened by pressure on the BLADE. The blade will have a thumb stud or hole on which the user applies pressure to open the knife. This pressure causes the blade to begin opening, after which the spring mechanism takes over and opens the knife the rest of the way.

Note the distinction between pressure on the BLADE (legal) vs. pressure on a device in the HANDLE (not legal).

As far as the speed at which the knife opens, there is NO PRACTICAL DIFFERENCE between a switchblade knife and a spring-assisted knife. As a spring-assisted knife opens, it sounds like a switchblade and it looks like a switchblade. Thus it seems to me that a police officer could easily perceive a spring-assisted knife to be a switchblade knife if he or she did not understand the distinction between the opening mechanism of each type of knife.

    userpen in reply to siguiriya. | May 2, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    I fear they have probably pulled a switcheroo by now so that the knife they have in custody is a legal one and the original knife that Freddy was carrying that day is nowhere to be found.

      Ragspierre in reply to userpen. | May 2, 2015 at 2:51 pm

      If that’s true, a LOT of their case is screwed.

      The state would have the burden to show, beyond reasonable doubt, that the knife they offer into evidence is the UNALTERED knife, including a chain of custody.

      The first link in that chain would be the officer or officers who took it from ol’ Freddie. And, under your assertion, there goes the case.

      Phillep Harding in reply to userpen. | May 2, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      Shed skin cells love the inside of knives. A DNA check would blow that wide open.

      Char Char Binks in reply to userpen. | May 3, 2015 at 2:27 am

      It’s the same knife! I went out walking for a couple of hours last night. I walked through the boy’s neighborhood. I bought that at a little pawn shop just two blocks from the boy’s house. It cost six dollars.

    Phillep Harding in reply to siguiriya. | May 2, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    My Gerber (spring close) is almost as fast to open as my Benchmade (spring assist).

    But they are both Ohhhhh so scary. (Per a twitchy old maid I got into an argument with in another forum. You know the sort: “I don’t want to use it so no one should be able to have one.”)

Case worth looking at regarding the knife
BACON v. STATE of Maryland 322 Md. 140; 586 A.2d 18; 1991 Md. LEXIS 46

    A Thinker in reply to paralegal. | May 2, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Be careful with the parsing, there are differences between Maryland laws and Baltimore laws, and Gray would have been subject to both.
    The knife was reported to be a spring assisted knife. The Baltimore code provides a switchblade to be a knife ” . . . with an automatic spring or other device for opening and/or closing the blade, . . .” If the blade was spring assisted, the normal reading of “other device” would seem to include a spring mechanism.
    The case you refer to doesn’t address the spring assisted style of knife, but rather folding knives that weren’t described as having the spring assist.
    If the knife wasn’t a spring assisted knife, then what the prosecutor is saying has legs, but if it was, . . . This is why identifying what the actual knife was is so important. Hopefully, the fellow officers of Rice, Miller, Nero, Goodson, Porter, and White took note of the type of the knife.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to A Thinker. | May 3, 2015 at 2:02 am

      Hopefully the knife was photographed by the officers or the evidence locker attendant who is not a cowardly stooge willing to destroy/manipulate evidence.

      Once Freddie died, or seemed about to die, I hope the officers took the precaution to photograph the evidence before it was seized and rebooked into the investigation against them. I have my fears that they did not though, only because of the expressions of absolute shock on all their faces in their booking photos. I’m curious if the investigators in the case against the officers needed a search warrant to get it. If so, how do they describe the property?

      Andrew, do you know if the state would need a search warrant to get the knife from the BPD booked evidence holding?

        Ragspierre in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | May 3, 2015 at 9:02 am

        Remember that every piece of evidence anybody hopes to introduce before the jury has to have a LIVE sponsor, not a document.

        Hence, the introduction of the knife would REQUIRE a sponsor who could connect the knife to Freddy by their testimony. That HAS to be one of the arresting officers.

        Were the PA do something so clumsy as to switch or alter the knife, the arresting officers would end the case (as to several of the charges) right there; “Nope. That’s not the knife I took from Mr. Gray.”

        (It should be noted that any of the arresting officers willing to lie about the knife gets us to the same dilemma.)

        Charges stemming from the knife at issue have to be dismissed, because that knife is not coming into evidence.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2015 at 2:12 pm

          Right, agree with all that. But not having seen any evidence against the officers charged at this point, I can only base how it was processed on my own experience in booking loads of evidence and having written hundreds of search warrants. As you of course know, there are rigid chain of custody standards for handling and processing evidence. That knife would have been booked into evidence by the arresting officers who took it off Freddie. It has an evidence tag with an evidence registration number and the associated arrest report number(s) and the suspect(s) name(s). Further, that identification is recorded by the evidence holding facility control officer and its location within the holding facility is noted and recorded. And there it remains until it is released through another process for a defendant’s trial or eventually returned to the suspect if s/he’s not charged.

          So, how does the knife get into Mosby’s investigator’s hands? Technically it’s in the physical custody of Police Commissioner Batts, a wholly owned subsidiary of what you refer to as the Collective. According to the hidden-identity officers on Kelly and Hannity, he’s a sell-out and has often thrown the rank and file under the bus (I gather he’s a real snake).

          The knife was taken from Freddie at the scene of the arrest. It is now purported by Mosby to be, and must be, evidence against the officers, as you succinctly pointed out or the charges cannot be as they are. The knife underpins her allegations, although I haven’t seen her affidavit.

          How does the knife get from Freddie’s arrest case to the officer’s arrest case, since it was in the custody of the police commissioner? The crime scene, as Mosby alleges, would be the place where the officers decided to arrest Freddie. It had to have been seized by somebody with the legal authority to do so. I’m interested to know what legal mechanism was used for seizing and re-booking the evidence in the cases against the officers and by whom. Or was it released to Freddie’s family when he died and they voluntarily gave a knife or that knife, through their lawyer, who is the mentor, campaign donator and close friend of Mosby’s? It seems unlikely the knife would be released to them upon Freddie’s death, but with a snake for a police commissioner, it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.

          Details, including documents and interviews, about the chain of custody, or release, of the knife after Freddie’s death should be examined with a microscope.

          It seems to me that the only way to refute that it’s not the same knife would be by one or more of Freddie’s arresting officers testifying, which then introduces the shakiness of juror belief. The other possibility might be through identification records maintained by the evidence locker officer receiving it. If it’s a different knife, then the defense might have to go so far as forensic testing for DNA on the knife.

          So I still want to know if the investigators needed or used a search warrant or a subpoena or some instrument through which they seized or received the knife that was booked into evidence for the case against Freddie for the cases against the arresting officers and, if so, how they described the property (and, if they had photos of it prior to receiving it, who, where, when, how and why were the photos taken).

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | May 3, 2015 at 4:58 pm

          A MTS still requires an investigatory foundation before it hits pleading paper.

          Mosby would start throwing her investigators under the bus faster than a speeding bullet if the knife is bogus or the spring mechanism (assuming for the moment it’s a switchblade-type knife) was rendered non-functional at some point (which would be a very thin thread to hang her illegal arrest claims on).

          If the MTS was successful due to the evidence relevant to it gathered from an investigation, all charges relying on the knife arrest would go away. Then we’re left with the ride itself as being the only foundation for any remaining charges which Mosby or her successor would certainly pursue to save face for the black racial anger industry and its goals. And THAT is where the prosecution gets into the weeds because they have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that officer so-and-so did or didn’t do such-and-such when he or she saw this or that AND that he or she actually saw this or that, remove all reasonable doubt that the hospital or medical responders failed in some way, and that the ME actually knows his ass from a hole in the ground in deeming this a homicide in the first place.

          How Mosby’s team received the knife is the starting point and, based on my experience, could POSSIBLY branch out into a bonanza for the defense in many aspects of the cases, up to and including Nifonging Mosby herself and maybe even beyond her, even if it is the original knife from Freddie.

          The defense attorneys should be ready for a major discovery battle because they are dealing with a political machine with no ethics and a much larger agenda than just the cases at hand. I hope they have a raft of sharp investigators ready to go.

        Ragspierre in reply to JackRussellTerrierist. | May 3, 2015 at 3:05 pm

        Don’t get too far off in the weeds here.

        Defense counsel…and their experts (who will be VERY good)…will examine every shred of evidence.

        IF the officers raise the issue of evidence tampering with the knife, THAT will blow up the case RAT THAR. There will be a motion to suppress, and it will be VERY public, and long before trial.

        Miss Marilyn would almost certainly either step out or be removed as the prosecutor, partly to avoid even MORE controversy (in our hypothetical).

        IMNHO, and with the caveat that I am not a criminal lawyer.

In addition to Mosby’s incompetence, obvious conflicts of interest, unethical behavior in playing to the rabble, and lack of any actual facts supporting the charges, if it was murder not to put Freddie’s seat belt on, then which of the six was responsible, if any, for actually performing that function?

Which of the six was the designated “Seatbelt Putter Onner for Prisoners in the Back of the Paddy Wagon”? Was it all six? That doesn’t seem likely.

More likely, it was none of the six. No one had the specific responsibility to ensure the prisoner was belted in.

If no one had the specific responsibility to belt the prisoner, then how could any of them be held criminally responsible for not doing so?

Did any of the officers know Freddie had a severed spine? How could they have known that? If they didn’t know he had a severed spine, then how can they be criminally charged?

It almost seems as if Mosby must believe that one of the cops, or more than one, beat the tar out of Freddie in the back of the van and that’s how he got his injuries.

But even Mosby hasn’t actually alleged that, has she?

And wasn’t Freddie still alive for several more days before dying in the hospital? What if his death was actually caused by failure to provide adequate treatment in the hospital?

Oh yes–Mosby stating that the arrest of Freddie was “without probable cause” was an obvious bone thrown to her buddy and campaign contributor, the Freddie family attorney, for the inevitable civil lawsuit.

I liked graft and corruption better when it went on in the smoke filled rooms behind the scenes and not so brazenly at press conferences viewed by millions.

Seems a bit too arrogant, doesn’t it?

    wyntre in reply to Marco100. | May 2, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Yes. He died IN the hospital, 6 or 7 days after his arrest, a fact conveniently left out of nearly all LSM reports.

    “Freddie Gray, a 25-y-o black man who died in police custody.”

    Naturally the lofo’s all think the cops killed him.
    They didn’t.
    An accurate reporter would say “a 25-y-o-black man who (may have) died from INJURIES he suffered while in police custody.”

    It’s the “hands up don’t shoot” meme all over.

      DuraMater in reply to wyntre. | May 3, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      Correct. And for that matter, did the EMTs who transported the subject from the PD to the medical center place him in a neck collar? Was it known at the scene that in addition to his unresponsive condition he also had a sine injury? Might there have been a vertebral fracture without displacement……until he was moved onto a gurney for transport, whereupon subluxation, and transection of the cord occurred?

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to DuraMater. | May 3, 2015 at 5:40 pm

        I don’t know how reliable the information is myself because I haven’t looked into it personally, but there is information being circulated that Freddie suffered lead poisoning and had recently reached a settlement which resulted in a dismissal of the lawsuit.

        Just for speculation about what happened to cause Freddie’s injuries, and assuming the officers are telling the truth that Freddie was irate and tossing himself around in the van, or was seizing due to ingestion of the heroin found in him through the preliminary toxicology screen, would lead poisoning, supposedly ingested via lead paint chips as a child, impact Freddie’s skeletal stability?

          Well certainly there are a number of factors either alone or in combination which can precipitate seizures and which might be relevant to this case. But absent verifiable information, I will decline to speculate. Too many cow paddies in that pasture.

          However, you do raise an interesting question. And speaking in generalities, plumbism whether acute or chronic does target vital organs, is especially ravaging to brain and kidneys and over the long term will sequester in bone tissue. The degree of damage to the central nervous system , associated with impaired cognitive and motor development is especially tragic in children. I would think it could result in an encephalopathy complicated with seizure disorder, depending on the dose, duration and age of exposure.

          Significant lead poisoning has some gross pathological features which might be picked up during an autopsy performed by an astute examiner. It would certainly be recorded in ones past medical record, especially if there was associated litigation. But of course, in the case of Mr. Gray, there are things we know that we know, there are things that we know we don’t know and there are also unknowns which are yet unknown. …..Except for the fact, paint chips and heroine don’t mix.

FWIW, it looks like the knife was in plain view. I just found this over on Ann Coulter’s forum:

http://i59.tinypic.com/2nstjt5.jpg

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter

    Sammy Finkelman in reply to SqueekyFromm. | May 3, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    A timeline from the New York Times of Saturday said that the police only fopund the knife after they had handcuffed him.

    Which, of course, would be a different kind of a problem for them, or maybe that’s the illegality the DA is talking about.

    Why would they handcuff him before they found they knife?

      Bruce Hayden in reply to Sammy Finkelman. | May 3, 2015 at 5:57 pm

      Why handcuff Gray? He had just led the police on a foot chase. I would guess that handcuffing is pretty routine after that. For one thing, the police probably don’t want him taking off again on foot, trying to outrun the police again. And, maybe as a little incentive not to run when the police tell him to stop. Beyond that, it seems likely that he was at least either on parole or probation. Definitely, I think, out on bail. And, he seems to have been a frequent flier with the Baltimore police, with some 18 arrests over the last 8 years, with maybe half of them probably including felony charges.

Mr. Branca, I am shocked, shocked, that saw fit to critique Ms. Mosby’s prosecution of the six police officers. Mosby went to great pains to emphasize that the charges were the result of three independent investigations -by her office, the sheriff’s and the BPD internal affairs unit. Surely the results must be irrefutable.

Has it been verified yet that Gray was on parole at the time of the incident?
If so, doesn’t parole nearly always have a search clause?

I ask because, if Gray ran from the cops, and they recognized who he was and yelled for him to stop, wouldn’t he be commiting a crime by continuing to evade?

Let me posit that probable cause existed to arrest Gray under the catchall charge of disorderly conduct., and most likely trespass as Gray likely unlawfully entered private property as he attempted to elude police.

    Milhouse in reply to sequester. | May 3, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    No, that’s not a reasonable assumption at all. And “catch-all” charges that pretty much anyone is likely to be violating, such as vagrancy, are unconstitutional.

MouseTheLuckyDog | May 2, 2015 at 5:43 pm

I just came across this website which made my head spin:
http://www.knifeup.com/maryland-knife-laws/

They’ve got some really strange laws there, including making shurikens legal.

You can open carry almost any kind of blade, as long as you have no intent to harm anyone.

I wonder what they say about sword sticks. I might move there if they allow them, as I think they are really cool.

    Sammy Finkelman in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | May 3, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I will quote more from the website and add some emphasis:

    …..Maryland’s knife laws are somewhat archaic and cryptic..


    •It is legal to own switchblades, gravity knives, and automatic knives.

    …•You can not conceal carry a throwing star, dirk, switchblade, gravity knife, or bowie knife.

    •You can not open carry a throwing star, dirk, switchblade, gravity knife, or bowie knife with the intent to harm someone.

    •You can open or conceal carry any sized pocket knife you wish.

    If a knife is not listed above, it is most likely to be legal for concealed or open carry. Read on to see why…

    ….This law bans the concealed carry of dangerous weapons and the open carry of dangerous weapons with intent to harm. The law states that dirks, Bowies, throwing stars, and switchblades are types of knives considered to be dangerous weapons per se. The law also says that a penknife without a switchblade can never be a dangerous weapon.

    What is a penknife? Penknives are similar to modern day pocket knives. A penknife is an archaic term that is rarely heard of outside knife collecting circles…

    …The case of Bacon v. State in 1991 found that a penknife is still a penknife even if it is huge or small, open or closed, has a lock or not, and carried concealed or in the open. Bacon was found not guilty of carrying a dangerous weapon when he was carrying a Buck knife. A Buck knife is a folding knife that locks into place in the open position…

    What this means is that you can carry any sized pocket knife you want as long as it does not have a switch that automatically opens it (or you have the intent to harm someone). Stanley v. State in 1997 also stated that the it is the state’s job to prove that the knife is not a penknife….

    The case of Anderson v. State (1992) found that, if an item is not listed as a weapon per se in the law, the state has the burden of proof to show that the item falls in the category of weapons. The burden of proof required is beyond a reasonable doubt (Mackall v. State 2978).

    …This would also mean that most knives designed for a utility purpose would never be considered weapons.

    Once the state proves that the item is in fact a weapon, it must prove that the item is a dangerous weapon. The state must show that the item is capable of being deadly or dangerous and that the item was used in a way that would make it deadly and dangerous (Handy v. State 2000).

    By the way, switchblade is only defined in the section of teh law taht deal with selling or bartering such knives, which is illegal, and selling or bartering “shooting knives” are also illegal but shooting knife isn’t mentioned anywhere else apparently.

an automatic spring or other device for opening and/or closing the blade

Obviously not a useful definition. Just about all pocket knives or jacknives have “automatic springs” which close the blades, and keep them closed. That’s why they don’t open in your pocket.

Hey Andrew, when you have time, can you please try to explain to me the justification for the assault charges? Is her theory that failure to secure him in a seatbelt constitutes assault?

inspectorudy | May 2, 2015 at 9:27 pm

I have enjoyed reading all of the comments and the differing views. But I would remind all of you that as we saw in the Zimmerman and Ferguson cases most of this talk is pointless until the evidence is known. I am not a cop lover by any means but this whole mess seems to be a case of many small things adding up to one big one and no one is to blame for the whole event. Mosby seems to be an activist that has forgotten her job and probably doomed her case.

Knife laws can be alarmingly difficult to decipher. I have tried several times by extensive googling to find out whether the Milwaukee Fastback assisted-opening knife that I use all the time at work and often carry with me all day as a matter of course is legal or illegal in California. On the “legal” side, 1) I bought it at Home Depot, where it is sold as a tool, 2) I have to push on a stud on the blade itself to open it, 3) the spring assist only operates from about 5-45 degrees of arc (out of 180), and 4) have found a host of people who CLAIM this knife IS California-legal. On the other side, I have yet to see anyone address how it satisfies one of the requirements in the California knife law: that assisted opening knives must, when near-closed, have some kind of reverse-spring or “detent” feature that makes them tend to close. The spring assist opening is not engaged when the blade is within 5 degrees of closed, but I cannot detect that the spring is actually tending to hold the blade closed. At near-closed, the spring seems to have no effect either way. A police officer testing the operation of the knife to see if it tends to close when it is near closed might well judge that it seems to fail the “detent” requirement, though an examination of the blueprints might show that there actually is some small closing-direction force (just not strong enough to overcome friction).

Probably I shouldn’t carry this knife. I’m a walking test case ready to happen. But I prefer it to my Kershaw when I am working in other people’s houses because it is a nice red color and LOOKS like a tool rather than a weapon (when of course it is either depending on the situation).

In my opinion all of these laws are unconstitutional. They infringe a fundamental right to no significant purpose and with no rhyme or reason. California in particular has endless “mere possession” laws where it is a felony, for instance, just to have a stick in your hand, if an officer decides to judge it a “blackjack.” No particular behavior is necessary for the felony charge, just the fact of possession.

The very first provision of the California State Constitution is the right to self-defense but if you even pick up a stick to defend yourself, that is definitely a “blackjack” if prosecutors want to charge it, and it matters not one whit whether you were using it to attack or to defend. Mere possession puts you IN JAIL.

Damned blue states can really be foul.

I would like to add that it is being reported that he had heroin and THC in his system the day of the arrest, a dangerous combo. The panel would be done prior to surgery. As a soon to be retired critical care nurse, I can tell you that a heroin induced convulsion/seizure is brutal and forceful. It once took myself, another nurse, and the Dr. to confine and stablize a heroin patient during a convulsion. Prior to the surgery a 12pt panel would be taken, heroin is derived from morphine, if the 12pt panel test positive for opiate, a 5pt panel by urine would be taken to determin the exact drug, by ng/ml compound which determines heroin aside from vicodin or other hydrophone substance, which is needed to know what can be given to the patient safely. More following.

It has been reported Gray was a heroin dealer but not user. Some of the most common side effects upon one who uses the first few times or not frequent is trouble walking, which this sort of trouble is a lot like a refusal to walk, knowing between the two would be difficult unless one knew the person was on heroin. This occurs anytime within an hour, what could follow is low respirations, convulsions/siezures, and possibly cardiac arrest. It has been reported that the heroin is often in area sold in capsule form, this is so one can consume the drug easily rather than being caught with it on person. Even though heroin subdues one, when the high is interrupted with distractional events, one becomes irate, due to confussion. It is very possible that he went down on floor during convulsion, and continued convulsions on the floor, sustaining injury, leading to cardiac arrest.

The injury was reported internal, this means other than the bolt, no marks of beating. An officer has only limited medical training, and is not expected to know every detail of patients conditions short of visual and speaking communication. She said even during the stops, he asked for medical attention, how would she know this, no officer would admit to this because they to are liable for not seeking them attention. May I add that the multiple stops to check on prisoner does not show a no concern attitude, just the opposite, he could have just kept driving.

Always On Watch | May 3, 2015 at 7:22 am

I wish we knew the facts about Gray’s parole/probation status. Shouldn’t that be a matter of public record?

The 4th circuit appeals court has set precedence that it is NOT reasonable for an officer to believe such a knife is a weapon, and therefore qualified immunity does not apply in such a case. See Sorrell v. McGuigan (4th Cir. 2002).

The police officer (McGuigan) arrested a man in Maryland for carrying a folding knife with a 3 inch long blade in his pocket. The officer incorrectly believed the knife to be a weapon. Sorrell was not prosecuted as there was no crime committed. He sued for false arrest. McGuigan’s defense was that it was [i]reasonable[/i] for him to believe the knife was a weapon and therefore he was covered by ‘qualified immunity’. The court disagreed and the officer lost the case. He appealed, but the ruling against him was upheld by the appeals court.

Char Char Binks | May 3, 2015 at 11:32 am

The only unlawful arrests were the ones Mosby ordered of the cops.

From the looks of the down arrows you are squarely over the target, Mr. Branca.

Test. Thread closed?

Sammy Finkelman | May 3, 2015 at 2:10 pm

I think it’s possible there might have been some court decision defining what a switchblade knife is.

That would be my first guess, i.e., that the prosecutor is not wrong saying the knife is not unlawful, or at least the DA has a policy of not considering this precise kind of knife a “switchblade” but that the police – and Freddie Gray as well probably – made a mistake.

Anyway, I found the same website MousetheLuckyDog found independently:

http://www.knifeup.com/maryland-knife-laws

First, the section of the statute you quoted, § 4-105,
deals with selling or bartering a switchblade or shooting knife, and the term “shooting knife” is not repeated in other parts of the law.

Those words “opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or other device in the handle of the knife” are further defined as knives commonly called a switchblade knife or a switchblade penknife;

If the knife used a high-compression ejector spring instead of hand pressure it is shooting knife and not a switchblade.

Sammy Finkelman | May 3, 2015 at 2:11 pm

I will quote more from the website and add some emphasis:

…..Maryland’s knife laws are somewhat archaic and cryptic..


•It is legal to own switchblades, gravity knives, and automatic knives.

…•You can not conceal carry a throwing star, dirk, switchblade, gravity knife, or bowie knife.

•You can not open carry a throwing star, dirk, switchblade, gravity knife, or bowie knife with the intent to harm someone.

•You can open or conceal carry any sized pocket knife you wish.

If a knife is not listed above, it is most likely to be legal for concealed or open carry. Read on to see why…

….This law bans the concealed carry of dangerous weapons and the open carry of dangerous weapons with intent to harm. The law states that dirks, Bowies, throwing stars, and switchblades are types of knives considered to be dangerous weapons per se. The law also says that a penknife without a switchblade can never be a dangerous weapon.

What is a penknife? Penknives are similar to modern day pocket knives. A penknife is an archaic term that is rarely heard of outside knife collecting circles…

…The case of Bacon v. State in 1991 found that a penknife is still a penknife even if it is huge or small, open or closed, has a lock or not, and carried concealed or in the open. Bacon was found not guilty of carrying a dangerous weapon when he was carrying a Buck knife. A Buck knife is a folding knife that locks into place in the open position…

What this means is that you can carry any sized pocket knife you want as long as it does not have a switch that automatically opens it (or you have the intent to harm someone). Stanley v. State in 1997 also stated that the it is the state’s job to prove that the knife is not a penknife….

The case of Anderson v. State (1992) found that, if an item is not listed as a weapon per se in the law, the state has the burden of proof to show that the item falls in the category of weapons. The burden of proof required is beyond a reasonable doubt (Mackall v. State 2978).

…This would also mean that most knives designed for a utility purpose would never be considered weapons.

Once the state proves that the item is in fact a weapon, it must prove that the item is a dangerous weapon. The state must show that the item is capable of being deadly or dangerous and that the item was used in a way that would make it deadly and dangerous (Handy v. State 2000).

Another Ed | May 3, 2015 at 3:33 pm

A “shooting knife” is usually defined as a “ballistic knife”:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic_knife

Regarding the video with this article demonstrating a switchblade, it would appear that the first knife shown is not a switchblade, while the second knife shown is a switchblade. The first knife shown (with the index finger bandaged possibly to cushion) appears to have a “Carson flipper” type opening, which does not use any springs. With a “Carson flipper”, a blunt portion of the blade protrudes through the handle while the knife is closed, which is pressed firmly and rapidly to propel the blade and open the knife. This allows one-handed opening of the knife. There are no springs needed to assist the opening. No springs = no switchblade.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pocket_knife

http://www.alloutdoor.com/2013/06/11/flipper-knife/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XrKi-8Lz6M

I cannot place any credibility with this article. Words are missing and it has not been spell checked. For example, the word “than” is used early on when it should have been “then” and the word “if” is missing from the same sentence. In the internet age, it seems no one takes the time to proofread adequately.

    Thanks for noting the misspelling of “then”, however ungraciously. Now corrected to read:

    “If, however, it was spring-assisted then it certainly seems it would be unlawful under Maryland law.”

    Can you advise where you think “if” is missing from the sentence?

    Because if you can’t, I cannot place any credibility in your comment. In the internet age, it seems no one takes the time to proofread adequately.

    Sure, I’ll wait. 🙂

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Char Char Binks | May 4, 2015 at 3:27 pm

There were definitely unlawful arrests in this case — six of them.

Since there is nothing in the law at the state or local level which mentions spring assisted knives, and there is nothing in either law which says that a knife is illegal if it can be operated with one hand, we have to assume that the cops are lying and trying to blow smoke up people’s butts by making up the law as they go along.

There is a federal switchblade law though, and it makes clear that spring assist knives are not switchblades.

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