Six Baltimore officers charged; Gray killing called homicide

Baltimore is bringing charges against six police officers in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose death in police custody was ruled a homicide on Friday.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced at a Friday press conference that Officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of a transport van carrying Gray, will be charged with second-degree murder in the incident.

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Charges against the other officers range from involuntary manslaughter to assault and false imprisonment.

Mosby said that Gray suffered his fatal spinal injury in the back of a police van where he had not been buckled in. She added that officers repeatedly refused Gray's requests for medical attention, and that he arrived at the police station suffering from cardiac arrest.

“Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed and shackled by his feet, unrestrained inside of the BPD [van],” Mosby said. She added that while Gray had repeatedly asked for help after the injury and told officers he couldn't breathe, the officers did not drive Gray to a hospital and instead picked up another prisoner.

“Despite Mr. Gray's obvious and recognized need for medical assistance, Officer Goodson, in a grossly negligent manner, chose to respond to the 1600 block of West North Avenue with Mr. Gray still unsecured by a seatbelt in the wagon without rendering to or summoning medical assistance,” she said.

Mosby also argued that Gray’s initial arrest was illegal, as they did not have probable cause, and said that the knife found on Gray after he had been stopped had been legal.

Gray's death sparked violent riots earlier this week in Baltimore, along with many peaceful protests. A number of people assembled near Mosby cheered as she announced the charges.

“I heard your call for 'No justice, no peace,’ ” Mosby said to protesters, echoing a chant by protesters that has become popular during the wave of police killings of black men from Missouri to New York.

“Your peace is severely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of Freddie Gray.”

Gray’s mother, Gloria Darten, told Buzzfeed News that she feels “good because we got all six of them,” referring to the officers charged in her son’s death.

“You can rest, Freddie. You can rest. You can be in peace now,” she said. 

President Obama said Thursday he wouldn't specifically comment on the legal process but that it was "absolutely vital that the truth comes out on what happened to Freddie Gray."

"Justice needs to be served, all of the evidence needs to be presented," he added. "What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth. 

Several lawmakers quickly praised Mosby’s decision to bring charges against the police officers. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who represents a portion of Baltimore, said what Mosby did was “the right thing.”

“I believe in her. She's brilliant. She's a young prosecutor who lives in Baltimore. So I'm very pleased that a decision has been made, because something needed to be decided. And it's been decided.”

Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) praised Mosby's decision from the House floor shortly after news of the indictment broke.

“Her actions have shouted it out that black lives do matter. That black lives do matter. That all lives in America matter and that black lives matter,” Rush said.

Mosby on Friday also criticized leaks to the media in the Gray case.

A Washington Post report found the prisoner in the adjacent compartment to Gray told officers he believed Gray attempted to hurt himself, and a WJLA report found Gray's injuries were sustained while inside the van.

“I strongly condemn anyone in law enforcement with access to trail evidence who has leaked information prior to the resolution of this case,” she said.

“You are only damaging our ability to conduct a fair and impartial process for all parties involved.”

She added that the indictments should not be seen as an indictment of the entire Baltimore Police force.

“The actions of these officers will not and should not in any way damage the important working relationships between police and prosecutors as we continue to fight together to reduce crime in Baltimore,” she said.

“Thank you for your courage, commitment and sacrifice for the betterment of our communities.”

The Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police called for Mosby to appoint a special prosecutor, claiming she has "many conflicts of interest" and questioning her findings.

"None of the officers involved are responsible for the death of Mr. Gray," Gene Ryan, the president of the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police said in an open letter to Mosby.

"To the contrary, at all times, each of the officers diligently balanced their obligations to protect Mr. Gray and discharge their duties to protect the public."

 

Here is the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police letter to Mosby.

 

Here's a full list of the charges facing officers. 

 

Cristina Marcos and Scott Wong contributed.

This story was last updated at 3:05 p.m.