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Six Police Officers Escape DOJ Charges in Death of Freddie Gray

Photo courtesy of WJLA.

Summary: The Department of Justice said they will not pursue charges against the six Baltimore police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray. 

The officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray will not face federal charges. On Tuesday, the Department of Justice said that there was not enough evidence against the Baltimore police involved to support pursuing the case further, according to Buzzfeed. 

  
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“The government must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer acted willfully,” the DOJ statement stated. “It is not enough to show that the officer made a mistake, acted negligently, acted by accident, or even exercised bad judgment.”

In 2015, Gray was arrested for illegally possessing a switchblade, and he was found in a police van with a broken neck and compressed spinal cord. He died one week later.

The six officers involved in his arrest faced criminal charges of reckless endangerment, involuntary manslaughter, and second-degree depraved heart murder. The DOJ’s decision means that the officers will not be convicted.

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“Although Gray’s death is undeniably tragic, the evidence in this case is insufficient to meet these substantial evidentiary requirements,” the DOJ said. “…Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed without prosecution.”

Freddie Gray’s death in April 2015 sparked violent protests in Baltimore and accusations of police brutality. After his arrest, Gray, 25, was handcuffed and shackled in the back of the police van, but he was not wearing a seat belt and suffered injuries during transportation. Critics accused the police of being intentionally rough with him.



Freddie Gray’s family was not informed of the DOJ decision until its announcement, according to the family attorney.

Three of the officers involved with Gray’s death, Lt. Brian Rice, Officer Edward Nero, and Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. were put on trial but acquitted. In July of last year, Baltimore’s State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said she would not pursue the remaining officers because they would most likely not be convicted.

Mosby’s decision caused community activists to demand the DOJ file charges. After an investigation started during the Obama administration, current Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to pull back. Sessions also issued a memo that the DOJ would halt investigations into local police departments accused of brutality against African-Americans.

“The misdeeds of bad actors should not impugn or undermine the legitimate and honorable work that law enforcement officers and agencies perform in keeping American communities safe,” Sessions stated in the memo.

The NAACP said that the Baltimore Police Department needed to hold the six officers involved accountable.

“We know that spines do not break without cause,” the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund President Sherrilyn Ifill said. “The onus is now on the BPD to hold these officers accountable at their disciplinary trials this fall and winter. Baltimore will be watching.”

Since Freddie Gray’s death, then-police Commissioner Anthony Batts was fired, and an investigation was started during the Obama administration. The investigation found that the Baltimore Police Department targetted African-Americans, and the department agreed to enforce changes, according to NPR.

What do you think of the DOJ decision? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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