Baltimore prosecutor charges police with murder, manslaughter in death of … – Fox News
DEVELOPING: Prosecutors charged six Baltimore police officers Friday with crimes ranging from murder to assault in the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man whose death last month of injuries apparently suffered in police custody touched off peaceful protests that degenerated into a night of rioting, looting and chaos Monday.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, speaking at a Friday news conference, blasted the six police involved in Gray’s arrest on April 12, during which he suffered a broken neck that proved fatal a week later. Mosby said the police had no basis for arresting Gray, who police said avoided eye contact and was carrying a switchblade. One police officer, identified as Caesar Goodson, 45, was charged with second-degree murder, while others were charged with crimes including manslaughter and assault.
“No one is above the law,” declared Mosby, who said she comes from five generations of law enforcement and has been on the job for four months. Her husband is Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby, who has spoken out about the riots and anger in the city’s African-American community.
Gray suffered a broken neck, apparently while riding in the back of the Baltimore police van. Mosby said Friday the medical examiner had ruled the death a homicide. Police sources have said his injuries may have been caused by his head hitting a bolt inside the vehicle, according to local reports citing sources familiar with a police report now in the hands of state prosecutors.
The charges leveled against the police include:
- Goodson was charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree negligent assault, as well as other charges including failure to render aid and misconduct in office.
- Police Officer William Porter was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
- Police Lt. Brian Rice was charged with involuntary manslaughter and second-degree assault.
- Police Officer Alicia White was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault and misconduct in office.
- Police officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller were charged with multiple counts of assault, false imprisonment and misconduct in office.
Mosby said her office’s police integrity unit began investigating the case the day after Gray’s arrest and interviewed dozens of witnesses, viewed video, including of police statements, reviewed medical records and canvassed “the community and the family of Mr. Gray.”
She said her probe found that the police officers, part of a bike patrol led by Rice, made eye contact with Gray, who has a rap sheet that includes several drug arrests. Gray ran from police, prompting the officers to chase after him, Mosby said. Gray surrendered a short time later and was handcuffed with his arms behind his back, she said.
“It was at this time that Mr. Gray indicated that he could not breathe and requested an inhaler, to no avail,” said Mosby, who also said the knife Gray was carrying clipped to the inside of his pants was not a switchblade and was not illegal.
Police held Gray on the sidewalk until Goodson arrived driving the van, Mosby said. Goodson, Rice, Nero and Miller loaded him into the van, she said, but did not secure him with a seatbelt, a policy that had been put in place department wide nine days earlier.
Moments later, Rice ordered Goodson to pull over and the officers took Gray back out of the van. The shackled Gray’s legs, filled out paperwork and put him back in, placing him on his stomach on the floor of the vehicle, Mosby said. It was after that, she said, that Gray suffered his injuries. Mosby said Gray was injured “as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside” the wagon.
Mosby said the police stopped at least one more time to observe Gray, but did not immediately request medical assistance for him despite his pleas.
The Baltimore police officers union issued a statement before Mosby’s announcement, saying the six officers are not responsible for Gray’s death.
“As tragic as this situation is, none of the officers involved are responsible for the death of Mr. Gray,” Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 President Gene Ryan said in a statement. “To the contrary, at all times, each of the officers diligently balanced their obligations to protect Mr. Gray and discharge their duties to protect the public.”
Gray died a week later, on April 19. Until Friday’s news conference few details about the investigation had been publicly released and most of what was known came from local reports citing unnamed sources. An explosive report Wednesday night in the Washington Post cited a fellow passenger’s account in a police affidavit that said Gray was thrashing around in an effort to injure himself, although that witness went on the city’s CBS affiliate to say his words were taken out of context and that he now fears for his life after his statement was used to bolster the police version of events.
“When I was in the back of that van it did not stop or nothing,” Danta Allen, who had been arrested for allegedly stealing a cigarette, told WJZ. “All it did was go straight to the station, but I heard a little banging, like he was banging his head,” Allen said. ” I didn’t even know he was in the van until we got to the station.”
Gray’s lawyer has said his spine was nearly severed, but results of an autopsy, like the police report, remained under wraps. That has fueled frustration and suspicion in the community, where peaceful protests devolved into rioting and looting, culminating in a night of chaos on Monday.
The Gray family’s lawyers said they wqant the process to play out, and urged calm.
“This family wants justice, and they want justice that comes at the right time and not too soon,” attorney Hassan Murphy said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, protesters over Gray’s death continue to spread across the nation. Aside from gatherings in Baltimore, demonstrations spread into Philadelphia and New York Thursday.
Philly.com reports that Philadelphia police made three or four arrests after hundreds of protesters marched through the city to show support for Gray.
More demonstrations are planned through the weekend.
The Associated Press contributed to this report