Six Baltimore Police Officers Face Criminal Charges In Freddie Gray's Death

May 1, 2015
Originally published on May 1, 2015 9:18 pm
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Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

It was a stunning moment - the announcement today of serious charges against six Baltimore police officers for the death of Freddie Gray. The 25-year-old was fatally injured after his arrest last month, setting off weeks of protests. A violent looting spree earlier this week led to a curfew and the deployment of the National Guard. Now, NPR's Jennifer Ludden reports on today's charges and reaction to them.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: Officials had stressed this would be a long process, so it was a bit of a shock when state's attorney Marilyn Mosby announced her office had already completed its own investigation, and that Freddie Gray's death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner's report just in.

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MARILYN MOSBY: Which we received today, has led us to believe that we have probable cause to file criminal charges.

(CHEERING)

LUDDEN: Cheers there from a growing group of people that crowded among the media cameras. Mosby then detailed a series of officer errors from the start. Gray, she said, was not carrying a switchblade, but another kind of knife that's perfectly legal. There was no basis for his arrest. When put in a police van, he was never seat belted - against policy. And over and over, she said, multiple officers ignored his pleas for medical help, even when one found him unresponsive.

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MOSBY: She made no effort to look or assess or determine his condition.

LUDDEN: Mosby did not say exactly how Gray's spinal cord was severely injured, only that it happened when he was in the van, shackled hands and feet, unsecured, lying facedown. She then read a string of charges the officers face.

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MOSBY: Second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree negligent assault.

LUDDEN: The Fraternal Order of Police called on Mosby to step aside and appoint a special prosecutor on this case, a suggestion she dismissed.

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MOSBY: My administration is committed to creating a fair and equitable justice system for all, no matter what your occupation, your age, your race, your color or your creed.

LUDDEN: The lawyer for the six police officers accused Mosby of bowing to media pressure over the case. Michael Davey called their speedy indictment an egregious rush to judgment.

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MICHAEL DAVEY: No officer injured Mr. Gray, caused harm to Mr. Gray, and they are truly saddened by his death. These officers did nothing wrong.

LUDDEN: In West Baltimore, where a CVS was looted Monday, people crowded the streets in celebration. Rows of National Guard, state troopers and city police stood by in riot gear. Theresa Parker was on her way to work.

THERESA PARKER: Oh, I'm just happy. I'm glad it's all over with. To God be the glory, that's all I can say (laughter).

LUDDEN: Crystal Dankins was more reserved.

CRYSTAL DANKINS: I'm a little bit relieved. However, it's not over. I mean, everyone's happy right now, but we still have - there's still a waiting game.

LUDDEN: One man worried the charges would eventually be dropped; another that there will be new tensions now with some backing the accused police officers. But most seem to be breathing a sigh of relief. There are more marches scheduled all weekend, but people I spoke with said they no longer worry about more violence, at least for now. Jennifer Ludden, NPR News, Baltimore. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.