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by Peter Moskos

April 30, 2015

The 2nd man in a van

Interview with Donta Allen, the second man in the van. He's Baltimore, that's for sure. Straight out of the Western. Some might find him unique and charming. I'd just like to point out that his is a voice you don't hear much.


David Woycechowsky said...

Donata is the new Dorian.

Adam said...

I don't think that's saying much for his credibility, David. (See page 47 of the DOJ report). But let's not re-open old wounds.

One cannot begin to understand this interview without understanding the "Stop Snitching" culture in Baltimore. Donta acknowledges that he told Homicide detectives Gray was banging his head against the wall, but then stresses, as though his life depends upon it (because it probably does), that he didn't give the investigators reason to believe Gray was trying to hurt himself. I'm really curious to find out exactly what he told them. I hope they audiotaped the interview, though they may have only gotten a signed statement.

How on earth did the reporter not think to ask Donta whether the wagon guy gave them a "rough ride"? That would have been my first question. But it seems like something he would have mentioned unsolicited if it had happened.

If Gray was fine going into the wagon (as the ME report suggests and as MSNBC concludes), and if there was no rough ride, then what gives? Did the wagon guy kick his ass during one of those stops? Did Gray actually hurt himself? Was it a combination of Gray's bouncing himself around and maybe a sudden stop that flung him forward in the wagon? Probably no use speculating, as we'll hear from the State's Attorney soon enough. Quite a first test for Ms. Mosby.

David Woycechowsky said...

It begining to look like a nickel ride, but I still wouldn't rule out that he was hurt before he got in. On the one hand he was holding his neck funny while being dragged to the van. On the other hand he does appear to stand for at least a second and looks like he may actually be maneuvering on his foot in a deliberate way.

Donata may be saved by the fact that it seems to be agreed that Gray was in dire straits before Donata was loaded in.

He claims he didn't steal that cigarette, but I don't know about that. He may have stolen the cigarette.

campbell said...

Donta acknowledges that he told Homicide detectives Gray was banging his head against the wall

Sometimes, that kind of thing doesn't go the way you think it will.


Anonymous said...

I just saw you on Fox News and I came away with one impression of you: you are not so smart.

Your solution is to just throw more money at the problem. Let me help you out. More money won't buy personal responsibility. More money won't buy multiple children in a fatherless home a loving, caring, responsible father. More money won't inspire parents to take an active role in their children's education.

David Woycechowsky said...

Don't let the SJ post get you down, Prof. Moskos. SHG has said much worse about me, and has even gone so far as to delete my posts on occasion.

bacchys said...

The Blue Wall of Silence is the most successful "Stop Snitchin'" campaign in history.

Matt said...


You're not wrong, but your statement lacks context. A cop gets caught stealing or lying or other such nastiness and I and every cop I know will throw him under the bus and feel we've done good work. The problem is with force.

The problem with force is that we've all been there and can see ourselves in the situation that the demonized cop was placed. Admittedly, sometimes we create that situation ourselves. Personally, I rarely chase anymore. Property crime? Meh. Dope? Double meh. I teach my recruits to not chase or if they do, to jog behind, keep the suspect in sight, give clear radio updates, and let swarming overwhelming resources encourage a low impact conclusion. I work in a large city where swarming overwhelming resources are a luxury many coppers simply don't have.

But I digress, I know nothing about you, bacchys, but I can tell you that I have chased for no better reason than a guy ran. If you haven't been a cop, if you haven't felt that instinctual urge of fight, flight, or chase, it is not something I'm going to be able to convey. I'm not a gifted enough poet to explain it, but it is very real. This was years ago, mind you, but still, I would chase for no good reason. Most times there was no issue: I lose the guy or I catch him and we go to jail or don't. One time though, guy sees me, and he runs. I chase because... I feel something... and he ran. He's drunk and slow and comes to an intersection and can't decide which way to go. That hesitation gives me all I need, and I bury my shoulder into the small of his back. He hits the sidewalk, and his head peels open as it scrapes across the concrete.

The Warrant Gods smiled on me that night and washed away my sins. It turned out the guy ran because he had just been indicted for a stabbing he'd done a month before, but I didn't know that at the time. He went to the hospital, got stapled up, and booked; end of my story with him, but not of his with me.

It's that story I remember every time a cop makes a decision that makes the news. It's those other stories I realize might have been mine had things gone just slightly differently and there had been no warrant. It's those devastated families that could have been mine. That is why I am unwillingly to judge when a cop has an instinct and acts on it, even if that decision is poor in hindsight. It's not an "honest mistake" it's a "I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do mistake", and that makes all the difference.

In closing, am I a better cop because I "learned" and don't chase anymore? Again, meh. I think I'm a selfish cop who values his job more than the Job, but I don't begrudge those that still strive even when others would call it foolishness.