BALTIMORE– Baltimore prosecutors are dropping charges against the three remaining officers facing trial in connection with Freddie Gray’s death.
Gray, 25, died after sustaining a neck injury while in police custody in April 2015. Three of the six officers charged in the case had already been acquitted.
Gray’s death became a symbol of the black community’s mistrust of police and triggered days of protests and riots in Baltimore. The city became a focal point of the Black Lives Matter movement and the nationwide debate on excessive police force.
Prosecutor: ‘Inherent bias … when police police themselves’
More than a year ago, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby stood on her city’s courthouse steps and announced charges against the officers. “No one is above the law,” she said as she read out charges that ranged from second-degree depraved-heart murder, to manslaughter, to second-degree assault.
On Wednesday, the prosecutor said the decision not to proceed with the remaining trials was “agonizing.”
In a fiery address to reporters, she slammed the way police handled their investigation and said the criminal justice system needs “real, substantive reforms” to handle a case such as Gray’s.
“We could try this case 100 times, and cases just like it, and we would still end up with the same result.”
Shouting into the microphone as she read from prepared remarks, Mosby said the case showed “an inherent bias that is a direct result of when police police themselves.”
“There were individual police officers that were witnesses to the case, yet were part of the investigative team, interrogations that were conducted without asking the most poignant questions, lead detectives that were completely uncooperative and started a counter-investigation to disprove the state’s case,” she said.
Mosby, who comes from a long line of police officers, told reporters she isn’t anti-police.
“I’m anti-police brutality. And I need not remind you that the only loss — and the greatest loss — in all of this was that of Freddie Gray’s life,” she said.
When Mosby first took on Gray’s case, some praised how swiftly she acted. Others, however, said there wasn’t enough evidence to convict the officers.
“Justice has been done,” Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police President Gene Ryan said Wednesday after charges were dropped against the three officers. He added that comments about police from Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby were “outrageous.”
Van ride was key part of investigation
Gray died a week after police stopped him on a Baltimore street.
During his arrest, officers placed Gray in the back of a police van, which made several stops.
By the time the van arrived at the police station, Gray was unresponsive.
His neck was broken and compressed, prosecutors said in court, comparing the spinal injury to those suffered after a dive into a shallow pool.
New trial had been set to start
A pretrial hearing for Officer Garrett Miller had been set for Wednesday. Trials for Officers Alicia White and William Porter had been scheduled for the fall.
Baltimore Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow made the request to drop charges against them in court Wednesday.
Three officers were previously acquitted in the case: Edward Nero, a bike officer involved in the initial police encounter with Gray; Caesar Goodson, who drove the van that transported Gray; and Lt. Brian Rice, the highest-ranking officer charged.
A retrial against Porter had been scheduled after a jury deadlocked in the case against him in December.