Freddie Gray had a long rap sheet, that’s not in question. What is in question is how a man who was seemingly healthy enough to run away from police one second, could become so seriously injured that he would die just days later.
The city of Baltimore feels that they know enough to move forward with serious charges against the police officers who brought Gray into custody. Baltimore’s chief prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said that, “Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet, and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon.” She also said that the police had at least five different opportunities to “properly restrain” Gray in the police van, instead they allowed him to stay unrestrained and because of that he suffered catastrophic injury.
Six officers were charged with various crimes involving Freddie Gray’s death.
Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr.: Second degree depraved heart murder; involuntary manslaughter; second-degree assault; manslaughter by vehicle (gross negligence); manslaughter by vehicle (criminal negligence); misconduct in office
Officer William G. Porter: Involuntary manslaughter; second degree assault; misconduct in office
Officer Edward M. Nero: Two counts of second degree assault; manslaughter by vehicle (gross negligence); two counts of misconduct in office; false imprisonment
Officer Garrett E. Miller: Two counts of second degree assault; two counts of misconduct in office; false imprisonment
Sgt. Alicia D. White: Involuntary manslaughter; second degree assault; misconduct in office
There had been reports that perhaps Mr. Gray had purposely injured himself while riding in the back of the van. The reports originated with investigators who said that a second suspect in the van thought that it sounded like Gray was trying to hurt himself. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told the media that, “The second prisoner who was picked up said that he didn’t see any harm done to Freddie at all. What he has said is that he heard Freddie thrashing about.”
However, on Thursday evening that eyewitness spoke out and denied the rumors.
“I am Donta Allen. I am the one who was in the van with Freddie Gray,” Allen said.
“All I did was go straight to the station, but I heard a little banging like he was banging his head,” he said.
“And they trying to make it seem like I told them that, I made it like Freddie Gray did that to hisself (sic),” Allen said. “Why the [expletive] would he do that to hisself (sic)?”
“I talked to homicide. I told homicide the same story.” Allen said.
A story he says is being distorted and now he fears being killed.
“I had two options today right, either come and talk to y’all and get my credibility straight with ya’ll and not get killed by these [expletive] or not tell a true story,” Allen added. “The only reason I’m doing this is because they put my name in a bad state.”
Mr. Allen is obviously more scared of his neighbors on the streets of Baltimore than the police, but that doesn’t make his statement to the media wrong. The police likely have documentation of what he said in initial interviews and they haven’t come out to rebut his statements, which makes it seem likely that he was being honest with the media.
Also, a leaked cell phone video seems to show that Mr. Gray was already severely injured before ever entering the back of that police van. A video that surfaced on the internet shows Gray screaming in pain, unable to move and being dragged and thrown into the back of the police van.
Now the question is, ‘will the case go to trial?’ Only one of the officers was charged with murder – the others had lesser charges brought against them – which could mean that most of the officers will see benefit in simply making a deal to avoid a trial. Along the same lines, if the case does go to trial – will the officers be able to find a fair hearing in the city of Baltimore? The death for which they are being held accountable led to two weeks of demonstrations, a couple of riots, hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage and a broken city. It will be difficult to find a jury of their peers that is unbiased.
Whatever happens next, I hope justice is done. If the police officer did grievous harm, causing Gray’s death, then he deserves justice and the officers at fault should go to prison. If there is another explanation for what happened, I hope it comes out.
Here is the full press conference with Maryland state attorney Marilyn Mosby announcing Freddie Gray’s death a homicide and charges being brought against the local police.
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