Baltimore’s top prosecutor announced Friday that six officers would face charges in the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man whose death after an injury in police custody sparked protests in the city.
Baltimore’s chief prosecutor, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, announced charges against six officers in the death of Freddie Gray. Mosby, 35, surprised legal observers by filing charges against the officers herself, rather than seeking a grand jury indictment, a day after receiving the results of the internal police investigation and an official autopsy report. The decision, however, was consistent with her campaign pledge to hold police accountable.
Mosby has been on the job for less than four months.
THE OFFICERS AND THEIR CHARGES
The officers charged in the Gray case range in age from 25 to 45. Three joined the force in 2012. Two others, Lt. Brian Rice and Officer Caesar Goodson, have been on the force since the late 1990s.
Goodson, the driver of the vehicle that transported Gray, faces the most serious charges. He’s been charged with second degree depraved heart murder, which carries a possible 30 year sentence. The charge involves acting with extreme disregard for human life. Mosby said Goodson repeatedly failed to secure Gray with a seatbelt in the back of the van, and because he was unbelted, shackled and handcuffed he suffered a severe neck injury.
Other charges against the officers include involuntary manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment. The six officers turned themselves in at the city jail Friday afternoon after the charges were announced. All were later released on bonds of between $250,000 and $350,000.
Friday’s charges come approximately three weeks after Freddie Gray’s arrest on April 12.
After his arrest, Gray spent a week in the hospital before he died April 19. Bystander video captured Gray’s arrest and led to protests that began the night before he died and continued almost daily after that. The protests turned violent for the first time on Saturday, April 25, when pockets of protesters smashed out police car windows and storefronts.
But those scattered incidents were nothing like the violence that happened on Monday, the day of Gray’s funeral. At least 20 officers were hurt, one person was critically injured in a fire, more than 200 adults and 34 juveniles were arrested and nearly 150 cars were burned, police said.
That led city officials to impose a citywide 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew that began Tuesday and will continue at least through the weekend.
Before all of Baltimore knew his name, friends and relatives knew 25-year-old Freddie Gray as warm, funny, and generous. Gray was slight and slender at just 5-feet 8-inches and 145 pounds.
He grew up in Baltimore’s predominantly poor and African American Sandtown community, and had collected several drug-related convictions during his life. But the arrest that led to his death was “illegal,” Baltimore’s top prosecutor said Friday, since he hadn’t done anything wrong.
Charging documents from his arrest allege he was carrying an illegal switchblade knife, but Mosby said it was a legal folding knife, with the blade folded into the handle.
After Gray was arrested, he was transported in a police van but was never belted in as required. For at least part of the ride, he was placed on his stomach, on the floor of the van.
In announcing charges Friday, Mosby said Gray “suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by police and unrestrained” inside the vehicle. By the time police called for medical help, Gray was not breathing, Mosby said. His death has now been ruled a homicide.
The Gray family’s lawyer, Billy Murphy, said “his spine was 80 percent severed.”