No federal charges for Baltimore officers
The Justice Department has decided not to bring civil rights charges against the officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, whose 2015 death in police custody sparked riots and widespread anger in Baltimore.
In a news release, the Justice Department said its investigation had found “insufficient evidence” to support charges in the case and pointed to the high bar prosecutors would have had to meet to prove federal charges.
“It is not enough to show that the officer made a mistake, acted negligently, acted by accident, or even exercised bad judgment,” the Justice Department said. “Although Gray’s death is undeniably tragic, the evidence in this case is insufficient to meet these substantial evidentiary requirements.”
The decision likely forecloses any chance that the officers involved in Gray’s highprofile death will face criminal consequences, though the news is not particularly surprising. After a mistrial and three acquittals, Baltimore’s top prosecutor had announced she was ending local authorities’ effort to prosecute the officers, because winning a conviction had proved too difficult.
Gray, 25, was arrested in west Baltimore the morning of April 12, 2015, then placed in the back of a police van with his hands cuffed behind his back and his legs shackled. As he was being transported, he suffered a severe neck injury and lost consciousness. He died in the hospital about a week later.
The death sparked violent protests in Baltimore, and Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby ultimately charged six officers involved in handling Gray. Meanwhile, the Justice Department launched its own criminal civil rights investigation into Gray’s death, as well as a broader probe of possible systemic violations in the Baltimore Police Department.
Lt. Brian Rice, the highest-ranking officer involved in Gray’s arrest, along with Officers Caesar Goodson Jr., William Porter, Edward Nero, Garrett Miller and Sgt. Alicia White, were charged with various offenses in Gray’s death, including manslaughter, assault and reckless endangerment. Goodson, who drove the van, was the sole officer charged with murder.
Mosby on July 27, 2016, dropped criminal charges against White, Miller and Porter. Three other officers — Goodson, Rice and Nero — were found not guilty after separate trials. Porter had gone to trial once, but the proceeding ended in a mistrial.
A mural of Freddie Gray covers a wall near the intersection where Gray was arrested in Baltimore in 2015.