Baltimore’s chief prosecutor has charged six city police officers in what she called the “homicide” of Freddie Gray while in custody following an “illegal arrest.”
The charges include second degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault, manslaughter by vehicle, false imprisonment and misconduct in office.
“No one is above the law,” Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said in announcing the charges Friday morning from the steps of the War Memorial Building downtown.
Her announcement was greeted with cheers by spectators lining Gay Street.
Mosby said the six officers are presumed innocent unless found guilty at trial.
Mosby said she will ensure “a fair and impartial process for all parties involved.”
The events leading to Gray’s death last month started with his lawful dash after meeting eyes with police officers, Mosby said. The officers gave chase before Gray surrendered, she added.
Officers found a knife in Gray’s possession that was not an illegal switchblade but a tool that is legal to carry, she added.
Nevertheless, the officers placed Gray in handcuffs and took him into custody.
“No crime had been committed,” Mosby said. The officers “illegally arrested Mr. Gray.”
Officers also ignored Gray’s claims that he was having trouble breathing and placed him in a police vehicle without a seat belt or similar restraint in violation of police department regulations, Mosby said.
“At no point did [the officers] seek or … render medical attention for Mr. Gray,” who sustained injuries while unrestrained in the moving vehicle, Mosby said.
Medical assistance was called when Gray was found “unresponsive on the floor of the wagon,” Mosby said. “The medical team that responded found “Mr. Gray was no longer breathing at all,” she added.
Gray, in cardiac arrest, was rushed to Shock Trauma in Baltimore, where he died, Mosby said.
Gray’s death from injuries while in police custody touched off protests, rioting and looting in Baltimore during the past week, even as Mosby’s office and the police department conducted independent investigations of what caused the death the city’s medical examiner concluded was a “homicide.” Many of the most violent protesters were teenagers.
“To the youth of the city: I will seek justice on your behalf,” Mosby said. “Your peace is sincerely needed as I seek to deliver justice on behalf of Freddie Gray.”
Of the charges brought, the most serious one — second degree depraved murder — is against officer Caesar R. Goodson. The category of murder charge refers to “willful doing of a dangerous and reckless act with wanton indifference to the consequences and perils involved.”
First degree murder, which was not charged, “would require a specific intent to kill or killing during the course of an inherently dangerous felony,” stated Byron L. Warnken, a criminal-procedure professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law. “The charges that were issued almost certainly mean that the state’s attorney does not believe the officers had specific intent to kill Freddie Gray.”
Goodson also faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, manslaughter by vehicle by criminal and gross negligence, and misconduct in office.
Three of the other officers are facing involuntary manslaughter and second degree assault charges: William Porter, Brian W. Rice and Alicia D. White.
Officers Edward M. Nero and Garrett E. Miller face second degree assault charges.
Rice, Nero and Miller also face false imprisonment charges.
Each of the six officers faces a charge of misconduct in office.
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh said in a statement that the death of Gray or “any person in police custody is absolutely unacceptable.”
“The charges announced today are very serious, and these six officers are innocent until proven guilty,” Frosh added. “I hope that people will continue to respect the wishes of the Gray family so that further responses and conversations are peaceful and constructive while the justice system and our quest to improve our city and our state move forward.”