The Baltimore Police Department
The officers who were arrested, three white and three black, include a lieutenant with 17 years on the force, several near-rookies and a woman who had just been promoted to sergeant.
The most serious charges were brought against Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who was driving the van that carried Mr. Gray to a police station after his April 12 arrest. Along with involuntary manslaughter, Officer Goodson, 45, was charged with “second-degree depraved heart murder,” which means indifference to human life.
All six officers were arrested and appeared before a judicial officer. Bail was set at $350,000 for four of the officers and $250,000 for the other two, according to court records. By late Friday, court records showed the officers had been released from jail.
The death of Mr. Gray, 25, a week after he suffered a spinal cord injury brought to a boil long-simmering tensions between the police and poor neighborhoods in this majority-black city, culminating in rioting and looting on Monday. More peaceful demonstrations continued through the week after a curfew was put in place. And the swift action by the prosecutor seemed to some to mark a turning point after months of debate and demonstrations around the country over police violence.
“The larger message, if there is one, is that we’re moving on these things,” said David A. Harris, a law professor and expert on police racial issues at the University of Pittsburgh. “We’re taking them seriously, and there’s no longer going to be any kind of slowing down and taking it to the point where people wonder, ‘Whatever happened to that?’ ”
In Washington, President Obama declined to comment on the charges directly, but said that what mattered was for the justice system to work properly. “What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth,” he said. “That’s what people around the country expect.”
The Gray family said it was satisfied with the charges. “We must seize this opportunity to reform police departments throughout this country,” said the family’s lawyer, William H. Murphy Jr.
The Baltimore chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police called the speed of the prosecutor politically motivated. “The actions taken today by the state’s attorney are an egregious rush to judgment,” said Michael E. Davey, the union’s lawyer. “We believe that these officers will be vindicated, as they have done nothing wrong.”
Ms. Mosby faulted the police conduct at every turn. The officers who arrested him “failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray’s arrest, as no crime had been committed,” she said, describing the arrest as illegal. Officers accused him of possession of a switchblade, but Ms. Mosby said, “The knife was not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland law.
Ms. Mosby said Mr. Gray suffered a spinal injury while being transported in a police van — and not earlier, while being arrested — and pointed to the failure of the police to put a seatbelt on him as a crucial factor.
“Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside the B.P.D. wagon,” she said.
Despite repeated stops to check on Mr. Gray, the van driver, Officer Goodson, and other officers never belted him in, she said, at times leaving him face-down on the van floor with his hands behind him. Though there has been speculation that the police intentionally gave Mr. Gray a “rough ride,” intended to slam him against the metal sides of the van, Ms. Mosby did not refer to that possibility. She charged only Officer Goodson with second-degree murder, the most serious crime facing the six officers; he was also accused of manslaughter, assault and misconduct in office.
Mr. Gray’s condition deteriorated, she said, as officers repeatedly ignored his pleas for medical attention and ignored obvious signs that he was in distress. At one point, she said, when officers tried to check on him, Mr. Gray was unresponsive, yet no action was taken. He died of his injuries a week later.
Lt. Brian Rice was charged with manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment. Officer William G. Porter and Sgt. Alicia White were charged with manslaughter, assault and misconduct in office. Officers Edward M. Nero and Garrett E. Miller were charged with assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.
Source: NY Times Daily