The six Baltimore police officers suspended in the Freddie Gray case have been criminally charged, the city’s top prosecutor announced Friday morning.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Gray’s arrest was illegal and there is probable cause to file charges.
Mosby said members of her police integrity unit began their investigation on the Gray case beginning April 13, the day after his arrest. She said her investigative team reviewed video footage numerous times, interviewed and canvassed witnesses and repeatedly reviewed police statements and medical documents, among other tasks.
“The findings of our comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiner’s determination that Mr. Gray’s death was a homicide, which we received today, has led us to believe we have probable cause to file criminal charges,” Mosby said.
The officers were charged as follows:
– Lt. Brian Rice, 41, has been a member of the Baltimore Police Department since 1997, the supervisor on April 12: Charged with involuntary manslaughter, two second-degree assault charges, two misconduct in office charges and false imprisonment. If convicted, he could face a sentence of as much as 30 years in prison. Bail was set at $350,000
– Sgt. Alicia White, 30, has been a member of the Baltimore Police Department since 2010: Charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office. If convicted, she could face a sentence of as much as 20 years in prison. Bail was set at $350,000
– Police Officer William Porter, 25, has been a member of the Baltimore Police Department since 2012: Charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office. If convicted, he could face a sentence of as much as 20 years in prison. Bail was set at $350,000
– Police Officer Garrett Miller, 26, has been a member of the Baltimore Police Department since 2012: Charged with second-degree assault intentional, second-degree assault negligent, two misconduct in office charges and false imprisonment. If convicted, he could face a sentence of as much as 20 years in prison. Bail was set at $250,000
– Police Officer Edward Nero, 29, has been a member of the Baltimore Police Department since 2012: Charged with false imprisonment and second-degree assault intentional, second-degree assault negligent, two misconduct in office charges and false imprisonment. If convicted, he could face a sentence of as much as 20 years in prison. Bail was set at $250,000
– Police Officer Caesar Goodson, 45, has been a member of the Baltimore Police Department since 1999, the driver of the prisoner transport van: Charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder; involuntary manslaughter; second-degree negligent assault; manslaughter by vehicle by means of gross negligence; manslaughter by vehicle by means of criminal negligence; misconduct in office for failure to secure a prisoner, failure to render aid. If convicted, he could face a sentence of as much as 63 years in prison. Bail was set at $350,000
The definition of depraved-heart murder per Black’s Law Dictionary is “unintentional murder (18c) 1. A killing for which malice is implied because the person acted with intent to cause serious physical injury or knew that the conduct was substantially certain to cause death or serious physical injury. In some jurisdictions, this term is applied generally to several grades of killings without express intent. Also termed unintended murder.”
All six officers posted bond, and all but White were released.
“Our client is innocent; this is ridiculous,” said Tony Garcia, an attorney for Sgt. Alicia White, one of the six officers charged in the Gray case.
Nero, Goodson, Porter and Rice have a preliminary hearing scheduled for May 27.
President makes statement: ‘Justice needs to be served’
President Barack Obama, responding to a question made at an event for World Press Freedom Day, said he had not seen the nature of the charges against the police officers, but added, “It is absolutely vital that the truth comes out on what happened to Freddie Gray. It is my practice not to comment on the legal processes involved. That would not be appropriate. But I can tell you that justice needs to be served. All the evidence needs to be presented. Those individuals who are charged obviously are also entitled to due process and rule of law. So I want to make sure that our legal system runs the way it should. The Justice Department and our new attorney general is in communications with Baltimore officials to make sure that any assistance we can provide on the investigation is provided. What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth. That’s what people around the country expect.”
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake: There will be justice for Mr. Gray
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake expressed her feelings on Mosby’s decision during a brief news conference Friday afternoon.
“I was sickened and heartbroken by the statement of charges that we heard today, because no one in our city is above the law. Justice must apply to all of us equally. With today’s official indictment, I have ordered Police Commissioner (Anthony) Batts to utilize the full extent of his legal authority and immediately suspended all officers facing felony charges,” Rawlings-Blake said.
She said five officers are in custody.
“We know that the vast majority of the men and the women in the Baltimore Police Department serve our city with pride, with courage, with honor and with distinction, but to those of you who wish to engage in brutality, misconduct, racism and corruption, let me be clear: There is no place in the Baltimore City Police Department for you,” Rawlings-Blake said.
Rawlings-Blake said an indictment is the next step in the legal process running its course.
“As mayor, I will continue to be relentless in changing the culture of the police department to ensure that everyone in the city is treated equally under the law,” Rawlings-Blake said.
The mayor also vowed to justice in the case.
“There will be justice for Mr. Gray. There will be justice for his family and there will be justice for the people of Baltimore,” Rawlings-Blake said.
Gray family satisfied with charges
Freddie Gray’s stepfather, Richard Shipley, said the family is satisfied and that this represents the first step in getting justice for Gray.
Shipley also had a message for people planning to demonstrate in Baltimore: “If you don’t come in peace, don’t come at all. Freddie would not want people to lose their jobs and lose their businesses over something like this.”
National Guard Maj. Gen. Linda Singh also echoed peace for upcoming protests.
Gray family attorney Billy Murphy said he’s shocked by the charges and that it represents the first step but not the last step.
“The overwhelming number of people who have protested over these number of days did not know Freddie personally, but they and the people of Philadelphia, New York, Cincinnati and numerous other cities, numerous other towns and numerous rural areas are expressing the outrage that there are too many Freddie Grays,” Murphy said.
Murphy said this is a time to seize the opportunity to reform to bring body cameras to police and tear down the blue wall of silence.
Murphy said he believes 12 impartial jurors can be found in Baltimore.
Rep. Elijah Cummings praises Mosby’s decision
Rep. Elijah Cummings said he did not expect Mosby to make a decision on Friday, but that he supported her.
“I believe in her integrity, her pursuit of excellence, the fact that she is an outstanding lawyer and that she has been elected by the people of our great city,” Cummings said.
Cummings talked about a disenfranchised community that feels as if there has been a victory.
“I think a message has been sent by our state’s attorney that she treasures every life, that she values every person and so let the wheels of justice begin to roll and it’s good that they are rolling opposed to standing still,” Cummings said. “What I want to do is make Baltimore a model for the nation. We don’t have to follow anybody. We can set the model.”
Cummings also said that the issues of police and community are one part of a broader set of issues.
“Our children need to be properly educated. They need to be trained in certain areas so that they can get jobs, so that they can be functional and so they can have equal chance to opportunity,” Cummings said. “This is the beginning of a process. We did witness history in one respect and that is so often these things happen and nothing happens.”
Mosby: Officers illegally arrested Gray; Gray sustained injury in police van
Mosby said officers took a knife from Gray’s pocket after he was taken into custody and placed it on the sidewalk.
“The knife is not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland law,” Mosby said. “Lt. Rice, Officer Miller and Officer Nero failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray’s arrest as no crime has been committed by Mr. Gray. Accordingly, Lt. Rice, Officer Miller and Officer Nero illegally arrested Mr. Gray.”
Mosby said Gray sustained a neck injury during his transport to the Western District.
“Following transport from Baker Street, Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon,” Mosby said.
Goodson was driving the police transport van carrying Gray. Mosby said, “Despite stopping for the purpose of checking on Mr. Gray’s condition, at no point did he seek nor did he render any medical assistance for Mr. Gray.”
Mosby said, contrary to a general BPD order, at no time was Gray properly restrained in the police van — at least on five occasions. Even though Gray repeatedly asked for medical assistance, it was never called, Mosby said.
Police submit investigation to Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office
On Thursday, Baltimore City police submitted to the prosecutor its investigation into the Gray case. No details of the report were made available to the public. Mosby said her office began its own investigation, reviewing evidence and interviewing witnesses, the day after Gray’s arrest.
“What we received yesterday from the Police Department, we already had,” Mosby said.
FOP disappointed in charges brought against officers
In a news conference Friday afternoon Gene Ryan, President of Fraternal Order of Police Baltimore City Lodge No. 3, expressed disappointment in Mosby’s decision.
“We are disappointed in the apparent rush to judgment given the fact the investigation into this matter has not been concluded. Our officers, like every other American citizen, are entitled to due process. We will continue to support them throughout this judicial process, which we believe will result in a finding of innocence. We also promise all active-duty officers that we will continue to work diligently to ensure you will receive the necessary support from FOP to enable you to complete your missions safely,” Ryan said.
Echoing Ryan’s disappointment, attorney Mike Davey, who is representing Rice, said he was there to speak on behalf of all the officers.
“We believe the actions taken today by the State’s Attorney are an egregious rush to judgment, and we have grave concerns about the fairness and integrity of the prosecution of our officers,” Davey said. “I’ve never seen such a hurried rush to file criminal charges, which I believe are driven by forces which are separate and apart from the application of law and the facts of this case as we know them.”
The attorney expressed that he does not believe the officers did anything wrong.
“No one condones police misconduct. This is especially true of the entire FOP membership, including my client, who was a 17-year veteran of this department, who has dedicated his life to serving the public. Let me state in no uncertain terms that Lt. Rice and all the officers involved at all times acted reasonably in accordance with their training as Baltimore police officers. No officer injured Mr. Gray, caused harm to Mr. Gray and they are truly saddened by his death. These officers did nothing wrong,” Davey said. “His injuries did not occur as a result of any action or inaction on the part of these officers.”
The Fraternal Order of Police released an open letter to the prosecutor, saying, “Each of the officers involved is sincerely saddened by Mr. Gray’s passing.” The FOP is asking Mosby to appoint a special independent prosecutor, contending the prosecutor has too many personal and professional conflicts of interest to go forward with the case. They expressed grave concern about the fairness and integrity of the office.
“I believe that the publicity in this case is the driving force to a rush to judgment and causing this prosecution to move so quickly,” Davey said.
During her press conference, Mosby said, “There’s no accountability with a special prosecutor. I don’t see an appearance of conflict of interest.”
Analysis: Charges may have ‘calming effect’ on protesters
Providing analysis for 11 News, Baltimore attorney A. Dwight Pettit, said the charges may have a “calming effect” on protesters. He said he was surprised by how quickly Mosby moved.
“I thought that she would probably take a few more days and go into next week, but I sort of understand that movement in terms of the political turmoil going into this weekend, and that still might exist because a lot of folks might still not be satisfied with the lower counts that she brought rather than the higher counts.”
On the charges, Pettit said, “I think she took a bold but at the same conservative posture when you look at the levels of the charges,” Pettit said. “She didn’t overreach. I think if she had tried to establish first-degree murder, it would have been very, very difficult because that requires premeditation, and so I think she stayed within the ambit of what she believes that she can in fact prove.”
On the investigation, Pettit said, “She referred to the Baltimore City Sheriff’s Office. Now that’s been a very, very debatable issue in terms of the jurisdiction that the sheriff has coinciding with the Police Department, so it’s very interesting that she reached out to the Sheriff’s Office of Baltimore City, who is elected and independent of the Police Department and independent of the mayor, and whatever investigative tools that she used, it appears that she did a very comprehensive investigation.”
Marilyn Mosby’s path to law
Mosby was named for her grandmother, Marilyn Thompson, who has lived in the same Boston home for 50 years. They talked last week.
“I am really proud of my granddaughter. Really, it’s something she wanted to do, she’s doing it and I think she’s doing a good job,” Thompson said.
Friends call Mosby a smart leader. She comes from a family of police officers. Her mother is a retired Boston police officer, her grandfather and four of his brothers served in Boston or as transit police.
Mosby went to Boston College Law, clerked at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston and interned with the Suffolk District Attorney in the homicide unit.
She grew up in Massachusetts, where her 17-year-old cousin was murdered in 1994. Dion Spence’s death solidified her call to the law when Mosby was just 14. wbaltv