AFRICANGLOBE – A grand jury in Baltimore has indicted six police officers on homicide and assault charges in the death of Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured last month in police custody, the city’s chief prosecutor said Thursday.
The charges announced by Marilyn J. Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore City, do not differ greatly from those she initially filed against the officers. But getting a grand jury to agree and deliver an indictment is a milestone in a case that has generated national attention.
The case of Mr. Gray, 25 — who was arrested and injured on April 12 and died a week later — was one in a string of recent encounters around the country in which young Black men have died at the hands of the police, prompting protests, arguments about the role of race in law enforcement and claims that police practices are deeply flawed.
After Mr. Gray’s murder, the Justice Department began a civil rights investigation into the Baltimore Police Department.
Protests broke out in Baltimore after Mr. Gray’s funeral. For several days, the city was under a military crackdown and was patrolled by National Guard troops.
Ms. Mosby made no comment on the indictment, except to say that it was normal for a list of charges to evolve along with a criminal case. She declined to take questions.
Lawyers for the six officers, who are free on bail, have called the prosecution’s case weak, filed for dismissal of the charges and argued that Ms. Mosby has conflicts of interest and should be removed from the case.
Mr. Gray was arrested after making eye contact with officers and allegedly running. By the time the van delivered him to a police station, Mr. Gray had suffered catastrophic damage to his spine and was not breathing.
In the indictment, as in the initial charges Ms. Mosby announced May 1, Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who was driving the van, faces the most serious charge: second-degree “depraved heart” murder, which carries a penalty of up to 30 years in prison.
Officer Goodson, Officer William G. Porter, Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White were indicted on a manslaughter charge, with a maximum 10-year sentence — also unchanged from the earlier charges.
All six officers, including Officer Edward M. Nero and Officer Garrett E. Miller, still face second-degree assault charges, also punishable by up to 10 years, though some counts have been dropped. All six were indicted on a charge of reckless endangerment, a crime that was not included in the earlier charges, and misconduct in office, as well.
Initially, Ms. Mosby charged three of the officers with false imprisonment, claiming that they had no legitimate grounds for arresting Mr. Gray. But those charges, which experts said raised issues about how much discretion the police have to detain people, are not in the indictment.
By: Richard Perez-Pena
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