Freddie Gray’s death ruled a homicide

BY    | Updated: May 1, 2015 at 1:50 PM

Maryland’s state attorney Marilyn Mosby said Freddie Gray’s death has been ruled a homicide.

Maryland’s state attorney said Friday there was enough evidence to support criminal charges against six Baltimore police officers in the April 19 death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who sustained a fatal spinal injury while in police custody.

Marilyn Mosby said the resulting evidence, including witness interviews and hours of police video tape statements and an official autopsy report, led the state’s independent investigation to rule Gray’s death a homicide, “believed to be the result of a fatal injury that occurred while Mr. Gray was unrestrained by a seatbelt in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department wagon.”

Shouts erupted nearby when the decision was announced.

Mosby said Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the driver of the police van, faces a charge of second-degree “depraved heart” murder. The officers also face a combination of charges including assault in the second degree, illegal arrest, false imprisonment and manslaughter.

“To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America, I heard your call for ‘no justice, no peace’,” Mosby said. “Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.”

According to the Associated Press, the Baltimore police officers union said that the six officers are not responsible for Gray’s death. Union head Gene Ryan sent an open letter to Mosby requesting a special prosecutor in the case, asserting that Mosby has ties to an attorney for Gray’s family.

After weeks of scant details over the case, and several days of protests throughout Baltimore, Mosby provided the public with critical details about the April 12 arrest and the 30-minute ride in the police van to Central Booking.

On the morning of April 12, several police officers “made eye contact” with Gray, who subsequently ran and, after a short foot pursuit, eventually surrendered at the 1700 block of Presbury Street.

Officers then handcuffed Gray, with his hands behind his back.

“It was at this time that Mr. Gray indicated that he could not breathe and requested an inhaler to no avail,” Mosby said.

While it remains unknown why officers arrested Gray in the first place, Mosby said officers failed to establish probable cause for Gray’s arrest “as no crime had been committed.” She also said officers illegally arrested Gray and that Gray’s knife — originally reported as a switchblade — was legal.

Officers removed the knife and placed it on the sidewalk nearby. Mosby said when Gray started to “flail his legs and scream,” one of the officers placed Gray in a “leg lace,” a restraining technique.

President Barack Obama said Friday that it is ‘absolutely vital’ that the truth comes out in the Freddie Gray case.

Mosby said Gray was held down by officers “against his will” until a police van arrived to transport him to central booking. And, contrary to an departmental order, Gray was at no point secured by a seat belt, after he was loaded into the van.

Officers stopped the van on Baker Street and removed Gray to put wrist and leg restraints on him and to complete paperwork. Mosby said officers loaded Gray into the van, placed him on his stomach, “head first onto the floor of the wagon.” Again, Gray wasn’t secured by a seat belt.

“Following transport from Baker Street, 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,” Mosby said.

Later, when the van made a second stop, an officer checked on Gray, Mosby said, and “at no point did [the officer] seek nor did he render medical assistance for Mr. Gray.” Again, Gray wasn’t secured by a seat belt.

Blocks later, an officer dispatched that he needed assistance on checking the condition of his prisoner. At a third stop, when the additional officers observed Gray, he asked for help and said he couldn’t breathe, Mosby said.

The officers asked Gray if he needed a medic and, according to Mosby, Gray said two separate times that he needed medical assistance. Ultimately, Gray’s appeals for a medic were not granted.

“Despite Mr. Gray’s obvious and recognized need for medical assistance,” Mosby said, an officer “in a grossly negligent manner” instead chose to assist in the arrest of a second prisoner at North Avenue. Again, Gray wasn’t secured by a seat belt.

At North Avenue, officers found Gray unresponsive in the back of the van. Again, none of the officers sought medical assistance for Gray. Officers then loaded the second prisoner into the opposite side of the van, separated by a metal barrier.

At the Western District police station, officers said Gray was “no longer breathing at all,” Mosby said. When a medic was finally called, it was determined that Gray was in cardiac arrest and was “critically and severely injured,” Mosby said.

A week later, on April 19, Gray died from his injuries.

“The manner of death deemed a homicide by the Maryland state examiner is believed to be the result of a fatal injury that occurred while Mr. Gray was unrestrained by a seat belt in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department wagon,” Mosby said.

Mosby said that she will not turn the case over to a special prosecutor.

PBS NewsHour will update this story on tonight’s program.

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