The applause in the conference room, located on the 23rd floor of one of the city’s few skyscrapers, sounded similar — but much smaller, in scope — to the whoops heard from the steps of city hall.
In the room was the mother, stepfather, and younger sister of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old who suffered a fatal spinal injury while in Baltimore police custody on April 12. They were joined by their attorney, Billy Murphy, and a couple other staff members.
All of their eyes were focused on the taped press conference of Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby, who had announced that the six police officers involved in Gray’s death would face felony charges. Mosby finished her statement to raucous cheers from those watching from the city hall’s War Memorial Plaza.
None of this was a surprise to anyone in the room. Word had gotten out a couple hours ago.
But seeing that the indictments were real, for themselves, was a sort of catharsis. The air in the room was now thick with praise and, for at least a moment, gratitude.
“Amen,” said Gloria Darden, Gray’s mother. She clasped her hands together. “Thank you, God.”
Everyone rose to their feet for hugs and high-fives except for Murphy, who had impassively watched Mosby’s announcement while leaning back in his chair with his arms folded over his belly.
When it was over, Murphy swiveled his chair toward everyone else in the room. His eyes were red with tears.
“He did it,” said Richard Shipley, Gray’s stepfather. “He did it for us.”
It was an especially big day for Murphy, one of Baltimore’s most revered attorneys, a former circuit court judge, and a one-time mayoral candidate. Murphy looms so large in the city that he once played himself in an episode of “The Wire,” the gritty HBO crime drama about the city and its institutions, from politics to the drug trade.
Murphy’s Friday started at a business hotel in Columbia, a leafy suburb about 20 miles south of Baltimore. He had been tasked with giving an hour-long address to a room full of trial attorneys as part of a seminar on medical negligence and nursing homes.
Murphy arrived in a cab about an hour early, his breath smelling of coffee. Known both for his folksy manner and long gray ponytail, Murphy received an enthusiastic welcome, eagerly accepting handshakes and praise from younger attorneys. One younger man had approached him, full of gusto: “One day,” he told Murphy, “I plan to be you.”
His speech to the trial attorneys was supposed to focus narrowly on opening statements in medical negligence cases. But he often referred back to his role representing the Gray family.
“I prayed to be involved in this national debate on police brutality,” Murphy said, choking up several times. “It was an answer to my prayers because I’m tired of it.”
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Buzzfeed News, Joel Anderson