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Baltimore Six Will Avoid Federal Charges

BALTIMORE – The Baltimore six will avoid federal charges. The U.S. Department of Justice won’t bring federal charges against six police officers involved in the arrest and in-custody death of Freddie Gray, a young black man whose death touched off weeks of protests and unrest in Baltimore, reported Fox News.

The officers faced state charges brought by Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. The criminal indictments were due to the custodial death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray. His neck was broken in the back of a police transport vehicle in April of 2015. However, after three trials unraveled into acquittals, the remaining three cases were dismissed.

Gray was handcuffed and shackled at the time of transport, but not restrained by a seat belt.

Mosby’s actions were viewed harshly by almost everyone in law enforcement, and many others in the legal community. The criminal indictments had the appearance of activism based upon personal bias and predispositions.

The Gray family’s attorney, Billy Murphy, said the Justice Department informed him on Tuesday that no federal charges would be filed. The decision means none of the officers will be held criminally responsible for Gray’s death.

Five officers face internal disciplinary hearings scheduled to begin Oct. 30. Those officers are Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and officers Caesar Goodson, Edward Nero and Garrett Miller. The sixth officer, William Porter, was not charged with administrative misconduct.

White is one of the few who has spoken publicly regarding her plight.

“I still believe that, when I went to work that day, I did everything that I was trained to do,” White said in a series of interviews with The Baltimore Sun last year. “Unfortunately, that day someone lost their life. But I feel like everything I was trained to do, I did.”

White described the arrest of Freddie Gray as a routine encounter. He had been chased and arrested by officers near Gilmor Homes in West Baltimore. White received word of citizen complaints regarding his arrest, so she ventured out to North Avenue to follow-up on the situation.

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While standing near the open doors of the arrest van, she said she asked Gray if there was a problem. “I’m like ‘Hey, what’s going on?’ Like, ‘What happened?’ And he wasn’t saying anything. He was just kind of like not responding,” White told investigators in her first interview. “So I just figured at that point, he was like — just didn’t want to cooperate.”

But the entire criminal case seemed to rest on the fact that Gray was not restrained in place by a seat belt—something far short of murder or manslaughter—and consequently suffered an injury that cost him his life.

White said she didn’t see a reason to seek medical attention at that time. She said the other officers told her Gray had “jailitis,” a term for uncooperative arrestees hoping to go to the hospital instead of jail.

But when the van arrived at the Western District, officers said they found Gray not breathing in the back. White called for a medic.

The Justice Department decision was first reported by The Baltimore Sun. Surprisingly, everyone remains mum on the outcome. According to Fox, the agency, along with the Baltimore Police Department, Mayor Catherine Pugh, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby and the U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the decision.

Gray’s death triggered the firing of then-police commissioner Anthony Batts and prompted the Justice Department to open an investigation into allegations of discriminatory policing practices and unlawful arrests.

Last year, the Justice Department released a report detailing widespread patterns of abuse and misconduct within the Baltimore Police Department, and in January entered into a court-enforceable agreement to reform the troubled agency.

On Tuesday, attorneys representing the officers expressed relief that their clients will not be held criminally responsible for Gray’s death.

“These cases were never criminal and should never have been charged as such,” said Rice’s attorney, Michael Belsky.

Joe Murtha, who represents Porter, said he was relieved the department “determined that there wasn’t a basis to move forward with the civil rights action,” adding: “It’s a good decision.”

Officers Garrett Miller, Edward Nero, William Porter, Sgt. Alicia White and Lt. Brian Rice have sued Mosby and Assistant Sheriff Samuel Cogen in federal court, alleging they knowingly brought false charges.

In January 2017 a federal judge pared down the lawsuit filed by officers against Mosby, while allowing key parts against the Baltimore State’s Attorney.

U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis ruled that claims including malicious prosecution, defamation, and invasion of privacy can move forward against Mosby and Cogen, who wrote the statement of probable cause.

Mosby’s attorneys claimed prosecutorial immunity from actions taken as a state’s attorney. But the judge declared that her office has said it conducted an independent investigation.

“Plaintiffs’ malicious prosecution claims relate to her actions when functioning as an investigator and not as a prosecutor,” Garbis wrote.

Naturally, Mosby and Cogen deny the allegations. The lawsuit continues to work its way through various proceedings.

(Photo courtesy Baltimore Police Department)

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