Tuesday 27 September 2016

Six Baltimore officers face murder charges over Freddie Gray's death

Scott Malone and Ian Simpson

Published 01/05/2015 | 17:30

A mural on the side of a building in the neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested Credit: Andrew Burton
A mural on the side of a building in the neighborhood where Freddie Gray was arrested Credit: Andrew Burton

Six Baltimore police officers will face criminal charges, including second-degree murder and manslaughter, in the death of a black man who was arrested and suffered a fatal neck injury while riding in a moving police van.

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Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said Freddie Gray, who died a week after his April 12 arrest, was in handcuffs but otherwise was not restrained inside the van.

The officers failed to provide medical attention to Gray even though he asked for help on at least two occasions.

Read More: 'I want the white media out of Baltimore until you're here to report the real story'

Gray's death has become the latest flashpoint in a national outcry over the treatment of African-Americans and other minority groups by US law enforcement.

After a night of rioting in Baltimore on Monday, protests spread to other major cities in a reprise of demonstrations last year set off by police killings of unarmed black men in Ferguson, Missouri, New York and elsewhere.

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of the officers charged, Ms Mosby said at a dramatic news conference in front of a city office building across from Baltimore City Hall.

Read More: Police give prosecutors findings on Baltimore man's death

In addition to murder and manslaughter, charges include assault, misconduct and false imprisonment.

Representatives for the police union and Gray's family were not immediately available for comment.

"We put all our resources to make sure we were pursuing and leading where the facts took us in this case, which was to pursue justice," Ms Mosby said, a day after the Baltimore Police Department turned over findings from its internal investigation.

Ms Mosby said the Maryland chief medical examiner ruled Gray's death a homicide.

Read More: Dozens arrested in Gray death demos

The 25-year-old Gray was no longer breathing when he was finally removed from the van, Ms Mosby said.

A crowd of people who gathered to listen to the prosecutor's announcement broke into applause and drivers honked their car horns after she finished speaking.

Some of the onlookers chanted: "Justice!" "Justice for Freddie!" "Thank you Ms Mosby."

"The people of America give me hope. People like this district attorney give me hope," said Jay Morrison, a youth leader who attended the news conference.

Read More: 10 things you don't know - and won't hear - about the Baltimore Riots

Ms Mosby, a 35-year-old African-American who took office in January, is facing the biggest test of her short career in deciding to bring charges against the officers.

In Ferguson and New York last year, grand juries decided against charging officers who were involved in the deaths of two unarmed black men.

Read More: Baltimore protesters accuse police of 'kidnapping' student campaigner Joseph Kent live on air

The news triggered rioting in the St. Louis suburb and days of protest marches in New York and other cities.

Ms Mosby said she comes from five generations of police officers and that the charges against these six officers should in no way damage the relationship between police and prosecutors in Baltimore.

Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby says there is
Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby says there is "probable cause to file criminal charges in the Freddie Gray case" Credit: Adrees Latif
Two National Guardmen ready their equipment before a march for Freddie Gray Credit: Alex Brandon
Two National Guardmen ready their equipment before a march for Freddie Gray Credit: Alex Brandon

Reuters

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