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Freddie Gray Death Ruled Homicide; Six Baltimore Officers Charged

Freddie Gray during his April 12 arrest. (Witness video)

Freddie Gray during his April 12 arrest. (Witness video)

The death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old Baltimore man who suffered severe throat and spinal cord injuries while in police custody, has been ruled a homicide caused by severe trauma.

Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday morning that her office also found probable cause to file criminal charges against officers involved in the April 12 incident, ABC News reports.

The Baltimore Sun reports six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and subsequent transportation have been criminally charged.

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, who drove the police van carrying Gray after his arrest, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two vehicular manslaughter charges and misconduct in office.

Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Lt. Brian Rice, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Sgt. Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Officer Edward Nero, 29, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Officer Garrett Miller, 26, was charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.

Arrest warrants have been issued for all six officers.

Addressing a large crowd gathered on the steps of the city’s War Memorial Building, Mosby’s announcement was met with cheers and applause. “No one is above the law,” she declared. “To the youth of this city, I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a moment. This is your moment.”

“I heard your calls of ‘No justice, no peace,'” Mosby said. “However, your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of Freddie Gray.”

The circumstances surrounding Gray’s detention and death are still shrouded in mystery. Police say Gray, who has an extensive criminal history which includes at least 18 arrests, “fled unprovoked upon noticing police presence.” Police also said they suspected Gray was “immediately involved or had been recently involved in criminal activity.”

Police in many American cities routinely stop young men, especially blacks and Hispanics, without any evidence of wrongdoing, as part of ‘tough on crime’ tactics like ‘stop and frisk,’ which was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2013.

Baltimore police claim they found a switchblade knife in Gray’s pants pocket and that he was apprehended “without force or incident.” But cellphone video footage recorded by a concerned citizen appears to show officers brutalizing Gray, who screams in pain, with his leg appearing to be bent at an unnatural angle, as he is dragged away into a waiting police van.

The Baltimore Sun reported Gray suffered three broken vertebrae at some point during his arrest or transport and was rushed to Shock Trauma. There, he underwent a double surgery on his broken vertebrae and an injured voice box, but died the following Sunday, April 19.

Mosby said the officers who arrested Gray “failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray’s arrest, as no crime had been committed” and that his “knife was not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland law.” She called the arrest “illegal.”

Gray’s death sparked days of protests, most of them peaceful. But civil unrest also erupted and engulfed parts of the city, resulting in localized but intense rioting, looting and clashes with police. Hundreds of people were arrested, overwhelming local jail facilities. At least 100 individuals were held without charge for more than 24 hours as Larry Hogan, Maryland’s Republican governor, effectively suspended habeas corpus—the basic right the right to be free from unlawful imprisonment—to deal with the influx of prisoners. Many of those jailed without charge have been released.

Gray suffered a “severe and critical neck injury” as a result of being handcuffed, shackled and left unrestrained in the police transport van. According to multiple law enforcement sources, the Baltimore medical examiner’s office found that Gray’s fatal injury was caused when he slammed into the back of the van, apparently breaking his neck.

Mosby said Gray was repeatedly denied medical attention by police officers, even as he pleaded for medical help before becoming unresponsive in the van. She said her office did a “comprehensive, thorough and independent” investigation that began the day after Gray was arrested.

“My team worked around the clock, 12- and 14-hour days,” she said on Friday.

But Baltimore’s Fraternal Order of Police asked Mosby to appoint an independent prosecutor in the case, arguing Mosby’s ties to Gray’s family attorney, Bill Murphy, as well as her lead prosecutor’s ties with local news media.

“While I have the utmost respect for you and your office, I have very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest presented by your office conducting an investigation in this case,” FOP Lodge 3 president Gene Ryan wrote in a letter that also expressed concern over Mosby’s marriage to Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby.

Mosby’s response came quickly: “The people of Baltimore City elected me and there is no accountability with a special prosecutor.”

“I will prosecute any case within my jurisdiction,” she insisted.

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