Maryland attorney general asks state spending board for more staff to prosecute police killings

Jul 27, 2023

As Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown prepares to take over charging decisions in police killings under a new state law, his office is asking the state spending board to approve four new positions to prosecute cases. Brown’s request calls for two lawyers, along with one investigator and one paralegal/evidence analyst, to join his office’s Independent Investigations Division. The unit currently has 15 full-time positions, including six attorneys, spokesperson Jennifer Donelan wrote in an email to The Baltimore Sun. Previously, the unit led by Dana Mulhauser investigated all cases of police use of deadly force, then passed its findings to local prosecutors who determined whether to bring charges against officers. The creation of the investigative unit was part of a set of 2021 state reforms passed after nationwide protests over police treatment of Black people in 2020.

Maryland Sen. Will Smith, a Montgomery County Democrat, introduced legislation passed this year that gave charging powers to the attorney general’s office, after a similar bill he proposed in 2022 failed. On Oct. 1, Brown’s office will take over the prosecution of all civilian deaths involving officers or cases of serious injury likely to lead to death. During the first year of the investigatory unit’s existence, the attorney general’s office looked into the deaths of 23 people involving police, including 13 people fatally shot by police, seven who died during or as a result of pursuits, and three people who died in police custody. No local prosecutors opted to pursue charges in those cases. In one case, the attorney general’s office released its report this year on the death of Donnell Rochester, 18, shot by Baltimore Police in February 2022. The report said charges could be brought against police in that case, with one officer firing a fourth fatal shot after running into the path of Rochester’s vehicle.

Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates decided not to prosecute in that case, after the office of former State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby did not make a charging decision after receiving the report in August. The state Board of Public Works will consider the attorney general’s request for the new positions at an Aug. 2 meeting, according to an agenda made public Friday. Together the four positions would cost about $607,400. The Department of Budget and Management confirmed that the fiscal year 2023 budget contains money for the positions, including $548,900 set aside for this purpose, according to the agenda.

You could read more of this Miami Herald article here.