*Baltimore’s top prosecutor announced stunned everyone Friday with the announcement of criminal charges against all six officers involved in the case of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal injury in police custody.
The stiffest charge — second-degree “depraved heart” murder — was filed against driver of the police van. The other five were charged with crimes including manslaughter, assault, false imprisonment and misconduct in office.
“Mr. Gray’s death was a homicide,” State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby declared in a press conference on the courthouse steps. His arrest was illegal and his treatment in custody amounted to murder and manslaughter, she said.
Mosby said her office had been conducting an investigation into the death of Gray all along, independent from the police investigation. She said the police had no reason to stop Gray. Although he ran after two officers made “eye contact” with him, there was no probable cause to arrest him, Mosby said. She said that the knife police found on him during a pat down was legal to carry in the state of Maryland.
Mosby said Gray was placed face down in the back of the van with his legs and feet shackled, in violation of police procedure, which requires that prisoners be secured by a seatbelt. Mosby said Gray had asked for a medic at least five times during the course of his transport, and that the van made four stops before arriving at police headquarters some 30 minutes later, when police opened the van door to find Gray unresponsive.
More details in the AP report below:
“Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon,” she said.
Mosby said Gray was illegally arrested, assaulted, falsely accused of carrying an illegal weapon, and then hoisted, handcuffed, into the metal compartment of a police van without the seatbelt that all officers are told they must put on for safety of both detainees and officers.
The officers later failed to get medical help even though Gray requested it repeatedly, she said. At some point along the way, he suffered a mysterious spinal injury and died a week later.
Mosby said the illegal switchblade — which Officer Garrett E. Miller swore in a court record under penalty of perjury that he found clipped inside Gray’s pants pocket after he was detained — was in fact a legal knife, and provided no justification for Gray’s arrest.
She said Gray was assaulted by Miller, Officer William G. Porter, Officer Edward M. Nero, Lt. Brian W. Rice and Sgt. Alicia D. White. Each faces up to 10 years if convicted of second-degree assault.
The van driver, Officer Caeser R. Goodson, Jr., faces up to 30 years on the murder charge, and 10 years each for involuntary manslaughter, assault and “manslaughter by vehicle.” All of the officers also face a charge of misconduct in office.
A warrant was issued for their arrest, but Mosby said she was not sure if they were already in custody.
Mosby said she comes from five generations of police officers, that she respects and honors how police serve the people, and that this case should in no way damage the relationship between police and prosecutors in Baltimore.
She 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.
The state medical examiner’s office said it sent Gray’s 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.