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Six Officers Charged in Freddie Gray's Death

By    |   Friday, 01 May 2015 11:17 AM

Baltimore's top prosecutor announced criminal charges Friday against all six officers suspended after a man suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody, saying "no one is above the law."

"Mr. Gray's death was a homicide," State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby declared. His arrest was illegal and his treatment in custody amounted to murder and manslaughter, she said.

The announcement came after nearly two weeks of growing anger over Freddie Gray's death, and only hours after State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby received the results of a police investigation.

Mosby announced the stiffest charge -- second-degree "depraved heart" murder -- against the driver of the police van. Other officers face charges of involuntary manslaughter, assault and illegal arrest.

Mosby said the switchblade officers accused Gray of illegally carrying clipped inside his pants pocket was in fact a legal knife, and no justification for his arrest.

Mosby said she comes from five generations of police officers, and that the charges against these six officers should in no way damage the relationship between police and prosecutors in Baltimore.

Her announcement came as the city braced for two more waves of protests Friday and Saturday focused on the case.

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of the officers charged in the case, she said. In addition to murder and manslaughter, charges include assault, misconduct and false imprisonment.

In a dramatic news conference, Mosby said the Maryland chief medical examiner ruled Gray's death a homicide and that his spinal injuries occurred while he was riding without restraints in the van.

Gray was no longer breathing when he was finally removed from the van, Mosby told a crowd, which broke into applause after she finished speaking.

Gray's death on April 19, a week after his arrest, is the latest flashpoint in a national outcry over the treatment of African-Americans and other minority groups by U.S. law enforcement.

After a night of rioting in Baltimore on Monday, protests spread to other major cities in a reprise of demonstrations last year set off by police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, New York and elsewhere.

Mosby swiftly rejected a request from the Baltimore police officers union asking her to appoint a special independent prosecutor because of her ties to attorney Billy Murphy, who is representing Gray's family. Murphy was among Mosby's biggest campaign contributors last year, donating the maximum individual amount allowed, $4,000, in June. Murphy also served on Mosby's transition team after the election.

Fraternal Order of Police local president Gene Ryan told Mosby in a letter before the charges were announced Friday that none of the six suspended officers were responsible for Gray's death.

The state medical examiner's office said it sent the autopsy report to prosecutors Friday morning. Spokesman Bruce Goldfarb says the Office of the Chief State Medical Examiner will not release the report publicly while the case is under investigation.

The announcement prompted whoops, hollers and shouts of "Justice!" in the streets of Baltimore.

At the corner of North and Pennsylvania avenues, where the worst of the rioting took place on Monday, drivers honked their horns. When buses stopped in front of the subway station, people spilled out cheering as the doors opened.

There was no large gathering at the intersection immediately after the announcement, though: Nearly 100 police in riot gear were deployed, and for the moment, they had nothing to do.

In front of a fire station where Gov. Larry Hogan was scheduled to visit Friday, a man leaning out of a passing truck window pumped both arms in the air and yelled, "Justice! Justice! Justice!"

Ciara Ford of Baltimore expressed surprise at the decision to prosecute.

"I'm ecstatic," she said. "I hope this can restore some peace."

"It makes you cry," said her friend, Stephanie Owens of Columbia.

They both expressed hopes that the officers would be convicted. And both believed that the protests in the city made a difference in ensuring that authorities took the case seriously.

"If we had kept quiet, I don't think they would have prosecuted," Ford said.



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Baltimore's top prosecutor says charges will be filed in the death of Freddie Gray....
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2015-17-01
Friday, 01 May 2015 11:17 AM
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