Charges Brought Against Baltimore Police Officers In Death Of Freddie Gray

Ken AshfordBreaking News, Crime, Racial HomicidesLeave a Comment

Breaking now:

The death of Freddie Gray was a homicide, and there is “probable cause” for criminal charges, State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby says, citing her office’s “thorough and independent” investigation and the medical examiner’s report on Gray’s death.

Mosby announced a range of charges against several Baltimore police officers, ranging from second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter to assault and misconduct in office. A warrant has been issued for their arrest, she said.

After announcing those charges, Mosby noted her own ties to the police community — including her mother and father. She thanked officers who are committed to serving the community.

She also said there was no probable cause for the police to have arrested Gray in the first place.

This is, of course, welcome news, especially after several days of rumors from the Baltimore police investigation which muddied the issue of how Gray died:

Gray098Gray died on April 19, one week after being taken into custody. Police have said that during his transport, Gray wasn’t buckled in properly and did not receive timely medical care. Six police officers remain suspended over the case.

As the Two-Way has reported, when police turned over the documents to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore, they announced that “the van transporting Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man who suffered a serious spine injury while in police custody and later died, made one more stop than previously thought.”

The roughly 40 minutes that Gray spent in the van have emerged as the focal point in the inquiry over how he sustained the injury.

That extra stop was discovered through a review of recordings made by security and private cameras, Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said. He added that another detainee who was riding in the van told police that Gray was “still moving around … kicking and making noises” until the van reached the police station.

That second detainee rode in the police van on the other side of a metal partition that divides its cargo space. When he was picked up, Gray was already in the van.

Local news WJZ-TV reports that Donta Allen, 22, was that second man — and that he came forward Thursday out of concern over how his comments were being portrayed by both the police and the media.

“When I was in the back of that van it did not stop or nothing. All it did was go straight to the station, but I heard a little banging, like he was banging his head,” Allen said. ” I didn’t even know he was in the van until we got to the station.”

Saying his words have been distorted by recent reports and that he doesn’t think Gray hurt himself intentionally, Allen also told a WJZ reporter, “The only reason I’m doing this is because they put my name in a bad state.”

Allen, who was reportedly taken into custody for a minor offense and was not charged with a crime, also spoke to WBAL TV. He told the station that when he got into the van, he didn’t know Gray was already there. He said he heard “a little banging for like four seconds.”

WBAL aired surveillance camera footage that shows officers looking into Gray’s side of the van during the stop that also picked up Allen.

When the van arrived at the police station, Allen said he heard the officers say that Gray didn’t have a pulse and was unresponsive — and that another officer later said, “He’s got vitals now, he must’ve come back.”

The sequence of events has led to wide-ranging questions over what happened: Was the van driven in a way that caused Gray’s injury? When did Gray become unresponsive? Were the sounds Allen heard caused by a seizure experienced by a gravely wounded man?

The Baltimore Sun reports: “Maryland’s chief medical examiner, Dr. David R. Fowler, said his office has not completed an autopsy or turned any documents over to police or prosecutors. He said homicide detectives had observed the examination, a routine practice.”

When it’s complete, Fowler’s report will go straight to the state’s attorney’s office, the newspaper says.

NPR and other news organizations have asked Baltimore’s police department to release its report on the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, as well as for related documents and materials such as tapes of 9-1-1 calls made when Gray was taken into custody.

Protesters have been calling on police to reveal more information about the case.

Other news reports said that the police investigation had determined that a wound in Gray’s head matched up with a bolt on the inside of the van, which, when coupled with the statements of the other person in the van, suggested (to some) that Gray intentionally tried to injure himself.

But then the other person in the can denied telling police anything.

And then there is the problem of the injury itself.  The trauma was so severe, say doctors, that it could not be self-inflicted:

“Freddie Gray didn’t stand up in the back of that van and twist his back,” [internal medicine professional] Belk said. “What it would take to break a person’s spine is heavy trauma. The spine is so guarded, so an injury like his would take a lot of force like jumping from a second floor building or getting hit by a motor vehicle. It doesn’t just happen out of nowhere.”

Other medical professionals agree. Dr. David Samadi, an expert in robotic prostrate surgery and a medical correspondent for several news outlets, wrote an op-ed for the New York Daily News that also challenged the Baltimore Police Department’s version of events, saying that even if Freddie Gray tried to injure himself in the police van, he couldn’t have done so in a way that would cause serious spinal cord injuries.

“There must be a sudden, traumatic blow to the spine that fractures, dislocates, crushes or compresses one or more of the vertebrae, or when a gun shot or knife penetrates the spinal cord,” Samadi wrote.

“You have to apply a significant amount of force in order to break somebody’s neck,” Dr. Ali Bydon, an associate professor of neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, agreed in an interview with the Baltimore Sun.

And then there’s the issue of Gray’s crushed trachea.  How does that happen?

One can try to be optimistic that these cops will be convicted for even obvious illegal wrongdoing, but you never know (See, Rodney King).  On the other hand, at least there will be prosecutions.

UPDATE:  The specifics

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, who was the driver of a police van that carried Gray through the streets of Baltimore, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two vehicular manslaughter charges and misconduct in office.

Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Lt. Brian Rice, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Sgt. Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Officer Edward Nero, 29, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Officer Garrett Miller, 26, was charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.

It looks like the theory of the case is going to be that the officers did no intentionally murder Freddie Gray, but they negligently failed to secure him in the van.  He was handcuffed and chained, but there was no seat belt.  In fact, he was placed in the van stomach down (on purpose?), which caused him to bounce around.  And that was must have severed his spine.


The second-degree murder charge of Officer Goodson is known as “depraved heart” murder.  Depraved Heart murder is an legal term for action that shows “callous disregard for human life” and results in death.