Freddie Gray death ruled homicide; 6 officers charged

Posted at 11:00 AM, May 01, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-01 23:17:07-04

(CNN) — Latest developments

10:26 p.m.: Members of the media were being told through an announcement from a speaker on a helicopter over Baltimore’s North and Pennsylvania avenues to move to an area set up for reporters and photographers. A CNN reporter there said officers were spreading out into the street, and most of the people who were demonstrating had gone home.

10:15 p.m.: Police arrested protesters in downtown Baltimore after the nightly 10 p.m. curfew went into effect, according to CNN crews at City Hall and a tweet from city police.

Full story

Six Baltimore police officers will face charges in the death of Freddie Gray, the city’s prosecutor said Friday in an unexpected announcement that brought cheers from protesters and words of protest from the police union.

The announcement by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby left no doubt about what she thinks happened April 12, when Gray was arrested: The 25-year-old died, she said, after suffering “a severe and critical neck injury” while being transported “handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained” inside a police van. It is against police policy to transport a prisoner without proper restraints such as a seat belt.

Freddie Gray’s stepfather told reporters at a separate news conference that the family is satisfied with the charges announced. “These charges are an important step in getting justice for Freddie,” Richard Shipley said.

The family’s attorney, William Murphy, responded to the union’s comment on a rush to judgment, saying: “We haven’t said we believe these officers are guilty. We haven’t said we believe they are innocent. We said that we want justice.”

The police union called for an independent prosecutor, saying Mosby has conflicts of interests. They also criticized her for not waiting until police were done with their inquiry.

“Let me begin by stating how appalled and frustrated we are at this morning’s events. …. We are disappointed in the apparent rush to judgment given the fact that the investigation into this matter has not been concluded,” said Gene Ryan, president of the police union, at a news conference. “Our officers, like every other American, are entitled to due process.”

An attorney for the union, the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, said the officers did nothing wrong.

“No officer injured Mr. Gray, caused harm to Mr. Gray, and they are truly saddened by his death,” Michael Davey told reporters.

The accused

The officers face charges such as second-degree assault and involuntary manslaughter that could bring more than 10 years in prison.

• Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., 45, faces one count of second-degree depraved-heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, manslaughter by vehicle (gross negligence), manslaughter by vehicle (criminal negligence) and misconduct in office.

• Lt. Brian W. Rice, 41, faces one count of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and one count of false imprisonment.

• Sgt. Alicia D. White, 30, faces one count of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

• Officer William G. Porter, 25, faces one count of involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

• Officer Garrett E. Miller, 26, faces two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and one count of false imprisonment.

• Officer Edward M. Nero, 29, faces two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and one count of false imprisonment.

Second-degree depraved-heart murder is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

The six have a preliminary hearing on May 27, according to court documents available on the state of Maryland’s Judiciary Case Search website.

The officers have paid bail, according to the records. Bail for Goodson, White, Porter and Rice had been set at $350,000 each. Nero and Miller each had a bail of $250,000.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake urged police Commissioner Anthony Batts to immediately suspend all officers facing charges.

“There will be justice for Mr. Gray, there will be justice for his family and there will be justice for the city of Baltimore,” she said.

Protesters rejoice

Word of Mosby’s decision and her statement that Gray’s death was ruled a homicide quickly filtered through Baltimore and across the country.

Jubilant protesters, who just hours before had been decrying what they called the slow pace of the investigation, honked horns and cheered in the streets, happy, for the moment at least, that the justice they had demanded appeared to be taking its course.

“Did we expect something this monumental? No,” the Rev. Walter Scott Thomas of New Faith Psalmist Baptist Church said. “But are we excited about it? Absolutely.”

Across the country, people took to social media to cheer the decision.

“Let me tell you I just sat and watched Marilyn Mosby speak and as she announced everything I shed a tear..someone finally got it right,” Twitter user TaviBabi wrote.

Mosby and other leaders called for peaceful protests in the wake of the charges, saying unrest would only cause further harm.

Hundreds of people marched Friday evening near the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center, where the six officers were processed. The large procession continued through downtown, occasionally blocking traffic.

‘Grossly negligent’

Police officers arrested Gray on April 12. He slipped into a coma after suffering his injuries and died a week later.

According to Mosby’s narrative, the incident began when two police officers on bike patrol “made eye contact” with Gray, who then began to run.

Officers caught up to him, he surrendered and was placed on the ground, arms handcuffed behind his back. He said he couldn’t breathe and asked for an inhaler, “to no avail,” Mosby said.

Although police found a knife in Gray’s pants, it was a variety allowed by Maryland law, and police had no reason to detain him, the prosecutors said. Still, they called for a police transport van to take him away.

Once the van arrived, officers loaded Gray, in handcuffs, into the van. They did not put a seat belt on him, Mosby said.

Goodson drove the van and stopped the vehicle four times over the course of the approximately 40-minute ride. At the first stop, officers took Gray out, put shackles on his ankles and placed him — still handcuffed — headfirst and on his stomach in the back.

At the last stop, Goodson picked up another man who was put in the back of the van on the other side of the partition that keeps prisoners separated.

Donta Allen, the second prisoner in the van, told CNN’s Don Lemon that a report saying he had told investigators that Gray was trying to hurt himself during the trip was “untrue — very, very, very untrue.”

“I know for a fact that he (Gray) did not hurt himself,” Allen said. Reciting a litany of Gray’s injuries, Allen added, “you cannot do that (to yourself) in the (van). You can probably hit your head and have a little headache, but you can’t hurt yourself to the point you’re going to be dead.”

Mosby said Goodson and other officers who saw Gray’s condition failed to get him medical help, despite his requests, until arrival at the Western District Police Station.

By then, Mosby said, he was no longer breathing.

Mosby called the officer’s actions “grossly negligent.”

Gray was rushed to a University of Maryland medical facility where he underwent surgery. He died a week later.

Mosby, who has a rich family history in law enforcement, said it was important not to paint the entire police department as villains.

“I can tell you that the actions of these officers will not and should not in any way damage the important working relationships between police and prosecutors as we continue to fight together to reduce crime in Baltimore.”

And she called on protesters to remain peaceful in the wake of the announcement.

“This is a moment. This is your moment,” she said, addressing the city’s youth. “Let’s ensure that we have peaceful and productive rallies that will develop structural and systemic changes for generations to come.

“To the people of Baltimore and demonstrators across America, I heard your call for, ‘No justice, no peace’,” she said. “Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.”