Sunday 25 September 2016

All charges against the Freddie Gray case officers are dropped

Juliet Linderman in Baltimore

Published 28/07/2016 | 02:30

Protesters outside a Baltimore, Maryland court house at the trial of a police officer for his role in events that led to the death of Freddie Gray, a black man whose death in police custody last year sparked riots in the city. Photo: Michael Mathes/Getty
Protesters outside a Baltimore, Maryland court house at the trial of a police officer for his role in events that led to the death of Freddie Gray, a black man whose death in police custody last year sparked riots in the city. Photo: Michael Mathes/Getty

Prosecutors dropped the remaining charges yesterday against three Baltimore police officers awaiting trial in the death of Freddie Gray, blaming police for a biased investigation that failed to yield any convictions.

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Gray was a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken while he was handcuffed and shackled but left unrestrained in the back of a police van in April 2015. His death added fuel to the growing Black Lives Matter movement, set off massive protests in the city and led to the worst riots Baltimore had seen in decades.

The decision by prosecutors comes after a judge had already acquitted three of the six officers charged in the case, including the van driver, who the state considered the most responsible and another officer, who was the highest-ranking of the group. A mistrial was declared for a fourth officer when a jury deadlocked.

The case led the police department to overhaul its use of force policy, and all officers will soon be equipped with body-worn cameras. The US Justice Department has also launched an investigation into allegations of widespread abuse and unlawful arrests by the department, and the officers have sued State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, saying she intentionally filed false charges against them.

Gray's family received a $6.4m (€5.8m) settlement from the city.

A defiant Mosby held a news conference shortly after the announcement, saying there was "a reluctance" and "an obvious bias" among some officers investigating the case.

"We do not believe Freddie Gray killed himself," she said, standing in the neighbourhood where Gray was arrested, a mural of him on a wall over her shoulder.

"We stand by the medical examiner's determination that Freddie Gray's death was a homicide."

She walked up to the podium as people chanted "we're with you" and her remarks were punctuated by shouts of support.

Gray's mother, Gloria Darden, stood by Mosby, saying police "lied, I know they lied, and they killed him."

Attorneys for the officers were scheduled to hold a news conference later yesterday.

Prosecutors had said Gray was illegally arrested after he ran away from a bike patrol officer and the officers failed to buckle Gray into a seat belt or call a medic when he indicated he wanted to go to a hospital.

Mosby wasted little time in announcing charges after Gray's death, and she did not shy from the spotlight. She posed for magazine photos, sat for TV interviews and even appeared onstage at a Prince concert in Gray's honor.

Irish Independent

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