Julien Rosaly’s father does not accept that Baltimore police did the best investigation they could with the information they had. He wants them to apologize for arresting his son and friend and charging him with robbing a couple at gunpoint in South Baltimore.
But police and prosecutors will mostly likely not say they’re sorry, despite dropping all charges against the two men on Friday after reviewing a videotape that shows Rosaly eating in a restaurant at the time of the attack.
A police spokesman has defended the arrests as done with legal probable cause. The spokesman for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office called the arrests “appropriate given the information police had at the time.”
But Rosaly and his friend, Nicholes Maultsby, and now Rosaly’s father, says police arrested them too fast, before they searched the men’s rowhouse and found nothing — no gun, no rings worth $22,300, no wallet, no cell phones, and before they checked Rosaly’s alibi.
“I’m a little upset about what when down,” the father, Anthony Rosaly, told me on Monday when he called from Brooklyn, N.Y. “It’s hard for us to deal with it. The ruined my son’s life and his friend’s. He called me from jail, ‘Daddy, you have got to get me out of here. It’s wasn’t me. I told them where I was. They didn’t check.’”
Said the elder Rosaly: “If we didn’t have a videotape, my son would still be locked up.”
Read complete story of charges being dropped and of problems with witness identifications.
Police target street robberies in weekend initiative.
Victim describes South Baltimore attack.
Police responded quickly to the armed robbery call about 1 a.m. on Saturday, March 24, at Covington and Clement streets in South Baltimore. A couple, both ex-Ravens cheerleaders, had been held up at gunpoint, forced to the pavement and robbed of jewelry, money and phones.
The victims described their attackers and said they rode away on bicycles. A police officer hearing the call go out over the radio said he had seen two young men on bikes in the area earler on his shift. He quickly stopped three men on Leadenhall Street, two neighborhoods away.
Officers took the victims to the Leadenall and shined a spotlight on each one. From the back seat of a police car, Lauren Spates, 27, identified Rosaly as the man holding the gun. She later identified Maultsby from a photo lineup back at the station.
In an interview, Spates said she would never forget the face of the man who ordered her to take off her rings, and that she carefully studied the faces of both assailants, knowing it would be her identification that would put them away.
Police did not check on Rosaly’s alibi – that he was Maria D’s pizza restaurant at the time of the robbery, until after both men had been charged and ordered held without bail. And that was after Rosaly’s aunt got the tape and pressed officials to watch it. The manager of the restaurant also vouched for Rrosaly, a regular customer.
And police charged the two men before searching their house on Leadenhall Street, finding no evidence of the robbery. Police said repeatedly in the days after that the courts can sort out conflicting claims of identification.
But to the men who were charged, the investigations falls far short of complete. The charges were based on a single victim’s identification, with no evidence to support it and an unchecked alibi that later turned to be proved true. By that time, the men’s mug shots had flashed across the nightly news and in the newspapers.
And a community in South Baltimore breathed easier that police had quickly solved a vicious attack. Now, police are starting over again and two robbers are on the loose.
The previous state’s attorney, Patricia C. Jessamy, often clashed with police and her office wrote a memo asking the cops to do better jobs investigating armed street robberies. She was criticized for giving a man a plea deal in a Guilford robbery in which a resident was attacked on the front steps of her home.
Jessamy did not want to go to trial based on the woman’s identification of the suspect from a photo array,and she worried that the police detective had inadvertently tainted the array by including a photo of a man he knew from a previous crime. The suspect served a year in jail and was then charged with attacking more people in the Guilford neighborhood.
But the recent case in South Baltimore shows what can happen with police act too fast.
Here is the 2008 memo from prosecutors about robbery investigations: