As has been proven time and again, holding officers responsible when their actions result in the death of another is next to impossible.
Yesterday, the Maryland State Attorney’s office announced that all charges against the remaining officers awaiting trial in the Freddie Gray case have been dropped.
So, what they’re basically saying is Freddie Gray broke his own neck, right?
The 25-year-old’s arrest and unresolved death sparked protests and rioting that brought the city of Baltimore to a standstill. When it was announced that state attorney Marilyn Mosby, a sharp, young Black woman, would be pursuing charges against the six officers present at the time of Gray’s death, there was great hope the scales of justice would tilt in favor of common sense.
An autopsy revealed Gray had a broken neck and eyewitnesses at the scene say they saw officers use extreme physical force against him. Somebody had to be held responsible, right? Well, apparently not.
Mosby held a press conference near where Freddie Gray was accosted by officers following the announcement of the charges being dropped. She defended her decision to file charges against the six officers involved.
“We do not believe Freddie Gray killed himself,” Mosby said.
Her decision to file charges against those she believed responsible for Gray’s death was based upon an independent investigation undertaken by her office.
Mosby, who had been under a gag order, reportedly described her office’s decision to end the prosecution was based in part on the biased attitude of presiding Judge Barry Williams against the prosecution’s case.
“..The judge has made it clear he does not agree..” that the officers were responsible for the death of Freddie Gray. She also cited instances of conflicting interests perpetrated by BPD during the investigation of the incident.
According to Mosby, detectives were uncooperative, search warrants were not executed, some officers that were witnesses also were part of the investigation. She also stated that the officers even went so far as to produce a video to shoot holes in the state’s case.
Officer William G. Porter
Charges of involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault and misconduct in office resulted in a mistrial last year after a hung jury. A retrial was scheduled to take place in September. Officer Porter’s retrial was likely the pin that caused the prosecution’s case against the other officers to crumble, according to some legal experts.
Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr.
Charged with second degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault, manslaughter by vehicle and misconduct in office. Found not guilty at a bench trial by Circuit Judge Barry Williams on June 23.
Officer Garret E. Miller and Officer Edward M. Nero
Miller was charged with two counts of second degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and false imprisonment while Nero was charged with second degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment. Judge Williams found Nero not guilty of all charges in May while Officer Miller’s charges were dropped at the recent pretrial hearing along with the charges against Officer Porter and Officer White.
Lt. Brian W. Rice
Lt. Rice was the highest ranked officer on the scene and reportedly was the first spot Gray. He faced involuntary manslaughter, two counts of second degree assault, manslaughter by vehicle, two counts of misconduct in office and false imprisonment. The judge dropped one of the assault charges and ruled there was not enough evidence to prove second degree assault. He was found not guilty on all counts.
Sgt. Alicia D. White
She is accused of not requesting medical assistance for Gray even after being advised he needed assistance. She faced involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault and misconduct. The grand jury added an indictment of reckless endangerment. Her trial was set for October. All charges against her were dropped.
This appears to be yet another log on the simmering blaze of discontent with law enforcement that has been raging in poor communities for years. By choosing bench trials, most of the officers put their fates in the hands of the judge, and each “gamble” paid off.
There are currently three federal investigations by the Department of Justice into the practices of the Baltimore Police Department. The focus of the federal inquiries will be on unlawful searches, seizures and arrests, discriminatory policing and police brutality. There is no indication as to when this investigation is slated to conclude.
I commend the prosecution for trying to seek justice for Freddie Gray, and the people of Baltimore, despite facing an uphill battle and great odds against a successful outcome. However, some legal experts believe it was Mosby’s strategy that spelled doom for the case.
In a time of a Black president, in a trial with a Black judge and a Black prosecutor, and in a city with a Black mayor, Freddie Gray’s killers will go unpunished. ‘Murica, right? Right.