Baltimore State Attorney drops all charges in Freddie Gray homicide

(Photo Credit: SocialJusticeSeeker812 via Flickr Creative Commons)

The prosecution into the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody has come to come to a halt after the Baltimore State Attorney’s office dropped all remaining charges against officers. State Attorney Marilyn Mosby says that individual members of the Baltimore Police Department obstructed the investigation, and said it was clear the system is inadequate as it relies on police policing themselves. FSRN’s Jacob Resneck has more.

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Baltimore prosecutors have dropped all outstanding charges against three police officers who were yet to stand trial for the killing of Freddie Gray. The move came on the same day that the fifth trial was set to begin.

Gray died April 19, 2015 as a result of a severed spine suffered while in the back of a police van.

Baltimore’s Chief Prosecutor, Marilyn J. Mosby, said Wednesday that she decided to drop the charges after three earlier trials ended in acquittals. In all three, officers opted for a bench trial in which the judge – not a jury – decides the outcome of the case. At a Wednesday press conference, a defiant Mosby said that any future trials would probably come before the same judge.

“No matter how much we may disagree with his rulings, we do not believe that Freddie Gray killed himself,” Mosby told the crowd. “We stand by the medical examiner’s determination that Freddie Gray’s death was a homicide.”

Mosby had been under a gag order since last October. Now that all charges are dropped, she is free to discuss the details of the investigations and what led to her decision to drop the rest of the charges.

“However, after much thought and prayer it has become clear to me that without being able to work with an individual agency form the very start, without having a say in the election of whether our cases proceed in front of a judge or a jury, without communal oversight of policing in this community, without real substantive reforms to the current criminal justice system – we could try this case 100 times, and cases like it, and we would still get the same result,” said Mosby.

Mosby further complained her office was forced to rely on investigators from the Baltimore Police Department. The team included officers who witnessed the events that led to Gray’s death, lead detectives who were uncooperative – failing to execute search warrants to collect evidence – and officers who even manufactured evidence once trials were underway.

“As you can see, whether investigating, interrogating, testifying, cooperating or even complying with the state, we’ve all borne witness to inherent bias that is a direct result of when police police themselves,” said Mosby.

In April, 2015 the 25-year-old black man made eye contact with a police officer. On that basis – two officers chased and detained him. Video captured at the scene shows officers placing Gray, who is apparently screaming in pain, into a police van without belting him in. During the trip, police removed him from the van, shackled him, and returned him to the vehicle. He died one week later after suffering severe spinal injuries.

While no officers have been held accountable for Gray’s death, the Baltimore Police Department has updated procedures and policies. Officers are required to call a medic when requested and cameras must be both worn and installed in transport vans.

Gray’s father – Freddie Gray, Sr. – said while he is angry about the outcome of the three trials, his family understands the Mosby’s decision.

“We are very proud of the prosecutors who handled the case and did their best of their ability,” Gray, Sr. said. “We stand behind Marilyn and her prosecuting team, and my family is proud to have them represent us.”

The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division launched a still ongoing “pattern and practice probe” of the Baltimore Police Department last May. And five of the six-officers initially charged have filed civil suits against State Attorney Mosby, on allegations ranging from violation of constitutional rights, false arrest and false imprisonment, to defamation. Those cases are still pending.

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