No fed­eral charges for Bal­ti­more of­fi­cers

Star Tribune - - NATION & WORLD - By MATT ZAPO­TO­SKY, KEITH L. ALEXAN­DER and PETER HER­MANN • Wash­ing­ton Post

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.

PA­TRICK SEMANSKY • As­so­ci­ated Press

A mu­ral of Fred­die Gray cov­ers a wall near the in­ter­sec­tion where Gray was ar­rested in Bal­ti­more in 2015.

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