6 officers charged in death of Freddie Gray

Rev.+Pamela+Coleman%2C+right%2C+prays+with+Baltimore+residents+at+the+corner+of+West+North+Avenue+and+Pennsylvania+Avenue+on+May+1+after+charges+were+filed+against+six+Baltimore+police+officers+in+the+death+of+Freddie+Gray+in+Baltimore%2C+Md.+%28Kim+Hairston%2FBaltimore+Sun%2FTNS%29
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6 officers charged in death of Freddie Gray

Rev. Pamela Coleman, right, prays with Baltimore residents at the corner of West North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue on May 1 after charges were filed against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Md. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

Rev. Pamela Coleman, right, prays with Baltimore residents at the corner of West North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue on May 1 after charges were filed against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Md. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

Rev. Pamela Coleman, right, prays with Baltimore residents at the corner of West North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue on May 1 after charges were filed against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Md. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

Rev. Pamela Coleman, right, prays with Baltimore residents at the corner of West North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue on May 1 after charges were filed against six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Md. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

By Pamela Wood and Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

The six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, who died last month after being injured in police custody, have been charged criminally, Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday.

Mosby’s announcement on the steps of the War Memorial Building was greeted with cheers and applause. Mosby said she told Gray’s family that “no one is above the law and I would pursue justice upon their behalf.”

Desmond Taylor, 29, shouted in jubilee in front of the War Memorial Building.

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“I did not expect this, but I prayed for it,” he said. “This day means that your actions bring consequences in Baltimore City.”

Word traveled quickly of the charges against the officers. In West Baltimore, cars honked their horns. A man hanging out of a truck window pumped his fists and yelled; “Justice! Justice! Justice!”

At the corner where Gray was arrested, 53-year-old Willie Rooks held his hands up in peace signs and screamed, “Justice!”

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, who was the driver of a police van that carried Gray through the streets of Baltimore, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two vehicular manslaughter charges and misconduct in office.

Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Lt. Brian Rice, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Sgt. Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Officer Edward Nero, 29, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office.

Officer Garrett Miller, 26, was charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.

If convicted of all charges, Goodson would face up to 63 years in prison. Rice would face up to 30 years and Porter, Nero, Miller and White would face up to 20 years.

Warrants were issued for the arrest of all six officers. It wasn’t immediately clear where the officers were Friday morning.

“We’re not sure what time they are coming in. They will go through the process like anyone else,” said Gerard Shields, a spokesman for the department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

After the officers are arrested they will go to Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center downtown to be processed and where they will have their bail set by a court commissioner within 24 hours. If they are not released or cannot post bail, they will go before a judge in District Court the next business day.

If they are held, Shields wouldn’t say where they would be placed in the jail, citing “security reasons.”

Gray, 25, was chased down and arrested by Baltimore officers on April 12 and died a week later. His family has said he suffered a spinal cord injury and a crushed voice box.

Just before Mosby announced the criminal charges, the Fraternal Order of Police defended the officers involved.

“Not one of the officers involved in this tragic situation left home in the morning with the anticipation that someone with whom they interacted would not go home that night,” Gene Ryan, president of FOP Lodge 3, wrote in a letter to Mosby. “As tragic as this situation is, none of the officers involved are responsible for the death of Mr. Gray.”

After bystander video of the April 12 arrest surfaced, showing Gray dragging his feet as he was put in a police transport van, there have been cries for charges against the officers.

Mosby said Gray was improperly arrested because officers had no probable cause to detain him. Officers found a knife in Gray’s pants, but it was not a switchblade, as police previously said, and was legal under Maryland law.

In a detailed recounting of the events, Mosby described Gray being repeatedly denied medical attention by police officers, even as he asked for medical help and later was unresponsive in a police van.

Gray suffered a “severe and critical neck injury” as a result of being handcuffed, shackled and being unrestrained in the van.

Mosby said an investigation found officers placed Gray in wrist and ankle restraints and left him stomach-down on the floor of a police van as they drove around West Baltimore. Despite his repeated requests for medical attention, they did not provide it and continued to drive without securing him in the van, she said.

Officers on at least five occasions placed Gray in the van or checked on him and failed to secure him, she said. By the time they reached the Western District police station, he was not breathing and was in cardiac arrest, she said.

Mosby said her office did a “comprehensive, thorough and independent” investigation that began April 13, the day after Gray was injured.

“My team worked around the clock, 12- and 14-hour days,” she said.

Mosby worked quickly in filing charges. Baltimore Police handed over their investigation to her office Thursday, one day earlier than they had promised.

The Fraternal Order of Police asked Mosby to appoint an independent prosecutor in the case, citing her ties to the Gray family’s attorney, William Murphy, as well as her lead prosecutor’s connections to members of the local media. Murphy donated $5,000 to Mosby’s campaign and served on her transition committee.

“While I have the utmost respect for you and your office, I have very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest presented by your office conducting an investigation in this case,” Ryan wrote in his letter.

The FOP letter also expresses concerns regarding Mosby’s marriage to Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby.

“Most importantly, it is clear that your husband’s political future will be directly impacted, for better or worse, by the outcome of your investigation,” the letter states. “In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety or a violation of the Professional Rules of Professional Responsibility, I ask that you appoint a Special Prosecutor to determine whether or not any charges should be filed.”

Mosby responded to that request by saying: “The people of Baltimore City elected me and there is no accountability with a special prosecutor.

“I will prosecute any case within my jurisdiction,” she added.

Following Gray’s death, demonstrations and protests began peacefully but turned violent on Saturday and Monday. Monday’s events included rioting, arson and property damage in pockets of the city.

Officials responded by declaring a state of emergency, instituting a nightly curfew and calling in help from state troopers and the Maryland National Guard.

Mosby called on the public to remain calm.

“I heard your call for ‘no justice, no peace,'” she said. “Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.”

Demonstrations were planned in Baltimore for Friday night and Saturday, well before Mosby made her announcement of criminal charges against the officers.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is expected to address the criminal charges against the officers Friday afternoon.

Gov. Larry Hogan, who has been in Baltimore all week, said he had no immediate reaction to the officers being charged. He said his sole job is to keep the peace.

Hogan said he has faith in the justice system and his primary goal is to urge people to react peacefully.

Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen Holton called Friday’s announcement of charges “a defining moment for Baltimore. We should all be proud.”

“This is a good day,” she said. “I’m excited for my city. This speaks to decades of problems we have faced in this city and we’re beginning a new chapter today into real justice. This will allow us to begin to address the systemic problems that make us a tale of two cities.”

The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Mosby deserves to be congratulated but cautioned the criminal charges are only a start to a “lengthy process.”

The Baltimore Sun’s Yvonne Wenger, Meredith Cohn, Erica L. Green, Jessica Anderson, Kevin Rector, Erin Cox, Justin Fenton, Mark Puente, Doug Donovan, Liz Bowie and Alison Knezevich contributed to this report.

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