Freddie Gray Death – On April 12th, 2015, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man from Baltimore’s west side, was detained for possessing a “switchblade,” placed in a Baltimore Police Department (BPD) transport van, and found unconscious and not breathing 45 minutes later, his spinal cord virtually severed. Gray died on April 19th after a seven-day coma; his untimely death, as well as citizen video of his arrest, which showed Gray screaming in anguish, sparked both peaceful protests and headline-grabbing riots. Gray was injured sometime along the van’s itinerary, which included six stops, two prisoner checks, and another passenger pick-up, according to the two-week police inquiry.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby stepped on the steps of Baltimore City Hall on May 1, 2015, to announce criminal charges against six police officers, a hitherto unprecedented demand for police accountability. However, over the next two years, the prosecution would lose four trials, the remaining charges would be dismissed, and numerous Baltimore leaders would retire, quit, or be fired. Our nine-month investigation into Freddie Gray’s death, which is presently being broadcast on the podcast Undisclosed, has unearthed numerous facts and inconsistencies that throw into question the official story offered and accepted by the police, prosecution, and defence teams.
Who was Freddie Gray?
Gloria Darden’s 25-year-old son, Freddie Carlos Gray Jr., was born on August 16, 1989, and died on April 19, 2015. Fredericka Gray, his twin sister, and Carolina, his other sister, were his siblings. Gray was living in the Gilmor Homes area with his sisters at the time of his death.
He weighed 145 pounds and stood 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 m) tall (66 kg). Gray had a criminal record that included drug accusations and minor offences, as well as time spent in jail. In 2008, Gray’s family received a settlement from their landlord for failing to remove lead paint from their home; research has shown that lead exposure “can diminish cognitive function, increase aggression, and ultimately exacerbate the cycle of poverty that is already exceedingly difficult to break.”
How Did Freddie Gray Die?
On the morning of April 12, 2015, police came across Freddie Gray on the street near Baltimore’s Gilmor Homes housing project, a neighbourhood notorious for its high levels of home foreclosures, poverty, drug dealing, and violent crime. Mosby had ordered “increased” narcotics enforcement efforts near the corner of North and Mount about three weeks before to the event.
According to the Baltimore police charge paperwork, at 8:39 a.m., Lieutenant Brian W. Rice, Officer Edward Nero, and Officer Garrett E. Miller were patrolling on bicycles when they came face to face with Gray, who then fled on foot “unprovoked upon detecting police presence.”
According to Officer Garrett Miller, who reported that he “noticed a knife clipped to the inside of his [Gray’s] front right pocket” after a brief chase, Gray was arrested and put into custody “without the use of force or incident.” Officer Miller noted in the written statement of charges that Gray “inside the city boundaries of Baltimore, did unlawfully carry, possess, and sell a switch blade knife having an automated spring or other device for opening and/or closing the blade.
This cop recovered the weapon, which was a spring-assisted one-hand operated knife.” The spring-assisted knife Gray was carrying was allowed under Maryland law, according to the state’s attorney for Baltimore City, while a police task force determined the knife was a breach of the Baltimore statute under which Gray was charged.
Gray was carried to a police van by cops while screaming, and then stepped up into the van, according to a video captured by two bystanders. According to a bystander with ties to Gray, the officers had been “folding” him previously: one officer twisted Gray’s legs backwards, while another held Gray down by forcing a knee into his neck. Gray “couldn’t walk” and “couldn’t move his legs,” according to witnesses.
“Gray stood on one leg and climbed into the van on his own,” Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said of the video. Another witness, according to the Baltimore Sun, saw Gray being pummelling with police batons.
According to the police timetable, Gray was placed in a transport van 11 minutes after his arrest, and paramedics were dispatched to transfer him to the hospital 30 minutes later. During Gray’s detention, the van made four confirmed stops. Gray was unloaded at 8:46 a.m. and placed in leg irons because he was acting irately, according to police. Gray’s shackling was captured on video by a cellphone, which showed a motionless Gray being detained by numerous officers.
A private security camera captured the van stopping at a grocery store at a subsequent stop. A second prisoner was loaded into the van at 8:59 a.m., while authorities checked on Gray’s condition. The transport vehicle reached at its final destination, the West District police station, at 9:24 a.m. Gray was transferred to the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in a coma at 9:45 a.m. after paramedics treated him for 21 minutes.
A rough ride, a form of police brutality in which a shackled prisoner is placed without a seatbelt in an erratically driven vehicle, has been identified as a significant factor in Gray’s injuries by the media. A prosecution witness stated during Officer Goodson’s trial that he “could not say” if there had been a hard ride, and the court found that the prosecution had not presented evidence to support that assumption.
Furthermore, as the BBC reported in December 2015, “The prosecution claimed throughout the trial that Mr Porter could have saved Gray’s life by detaining him and seeking for medical treatment following his injury. They compared the police van like a rolling coffin.”
Dr. Carol Allan, an assistant medical examiner, “testified that Gray’s fatal neck injuries, resembling those suffered in a diving accident, were caused by abrupt force to his neck during his transport, when he couldn’t see outside the van to predict sudden stops, starts, or turns,” according to the Baltimore Sun in June 2016.
Six days before Gray’s arrest, the department’s seatbelt policy had been altered in an attempt to safeguard detainees from significant injury during transport. In Gray’s case, the policy was not followed. The new guidelines were questioned by some, according to attorney Michael Davey, who represents at least one of the cops under review.
“It is not always possible or safe for cops to enter the back of those transport vehicles that are very small, and this one was very little,” he noted, adding that in certain cases, such as when a prisoner is aggressive.
Gray went into total cardiac arrest at least once in the following week, according to the Gray family attorney, but was resuscitated without ever regaining consciousness. In order to save his life, he remained in a coma and underwent significant surgery.
He went into a coma with three cracked vertebrae, fractures to his voice box, and an 80 percent severed spine at his neck, according to his relatives. Gray died as a result of a spinal injury, according to police. Gray died a week after his arrest, on April 19, 2015.
Who killed Freddie Gray, and why was he killed?
State prosecutors stated they had probable cause to file criminal charges against the six policemen involved on May 1, 2015, after receiving a medical examiner’s report pronouncing Gray’s death a homicide. Mosby claimed that Baltimore cops acted improperly and that “no crime had been committed” (by Freddie Gray).
“As a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet, and unrestrained inside the BPD waggon,” Mosby said, Gray “suffered a serious neck injury.” Mosby charged cops with wrongful imprisonment after they “failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray’s detention, as no crime had been committed,” because Gray was carrying a legal-sized pocket knife rather than the switchblade police said he had at the time of his arrest. At the Baltimore Central Booking & Intake Center, all six cops were apprehended and processed.
Three of the policemen were charged with manslaughter, and one was also charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder. Murder charges carry a potential sentence of 30 years in jail, while manslaughter and assault charges bring a maximum sentence of 10 years.
All six officers were released the same day they were arrested after posting bail. The bail for two officers was set at $250,000, while the bail for the other four officers was set at $350,000.
Separate trials for the defendants were decided on September 2, 2015.
Officer Porter’s trial was declared a mistrial by Baltimore judge Barry Williams in December 2015 after the jury was unable to reach a decision.
Officer Nero was found not guilty by Judge Williams in a bench trial in May 2016.
Circuit Judge Barry Williams acquitted Officer Caesar Goodson of all counts on June 23, 2016. Marilyn Mosby was accused of prosecutorial misconduct by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, who filed a complaint with the bar in June 2016.
In January 2017, a federal judge granted permission for five of the six police officers who had been wrongfully charged by Mosby to file a lawsuit. Mosby was being sued for defamation, defamation of character, and invasion of privacy.
Officer William G. Porter
After Goodson called dispatchers to request an officer to check on Gray, Porter met up with the vehicle. Gray wanted a medic twice, but he did not call for one.
He was charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault in the second degree, and official misconduct. Porter was released on bail after posting a $350,000 bond.
Porter was indicted on all allegations, as well as a charge of reckless endangerment, by the grand jury. After the jury was hung and could not reach a decision, a mistrial was declared on all charges on December 16, 2015. The date for Porter’s second trial was set for June 13, 2016. Analysts believe Porter’s retrial could have hampered the other trials because he cannot be compelled to testify while allegations against him are pending.
The Maryland Court of Appeals determined that Porter would be obliged to testify in the proceedings against the other officers, despite many appeals and reversals. The retrial date for Officer Porter was initially set for September 6, 2016. All allegations against him were withdrawn on July 27, 2016.
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), and misconduct in office were all charged against Officer Goodson, the van’s driver.
He was released after posting a $350,000 bond. The grand jury found Goodson guilty of all charges, as well as reckless endangerment. Circuit Judge Barry Williams ruled Officer Goodson not guilty of all charges on June 23, 2016.
Officers Garrett E. Miller and Edward M. Nero
Officers apprehended Gray after he fled and handcuffed him with his arms behind his back after apprehending him.
Two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office, and two counts of false imprisonment were filed against Miller. Two counts of second-degree assault, as well as misconduct in office and false imprisonment, were brought against Nero. Each was released after posting a $250,000 bond. The accusations of false imprisonment were withdrawn by the grand jury, but reckless endangerment was added.
On May 23, 2016, Judge Williams found Officer Nero not guilty of all charges. The trial date for Officer Miller has been scheduled for July 27, 2016. All charges against Miller, as well as officers Porter and White, were dismissed at his pretrial hearing on July 27, 2016.
Lt. Brian W. Rice
While on a bicycle patrol, the officer who first made eye contact with Gray.
Involuntary manslaughter, two counts of second-degree assault, manslaughter by automobile (gross negligence), two acts of misconduct in office, and wrongful imprisonment were among the charges leveled against him.
He was released after posting a $350,000 bond. The allegations of false imprisonment were withdrawn by the grand jury, which added a charge of reckless endangerment to the indictment.
After the prosecution rested, Judge Williams dismissed one of the assault charges, saying that there was insufficient evidence to prove second-degree assault. The trial of Lt. Rice began on July 7, 2016. On July 18, 2016, Judge Barry Williams ruled Rice not guilty on all counts.
Sgt. Alicia D. White
“Despite the fact that she was warned that he needed a medic,” White was accused of not calling for medical help when she encountered Gray.
Involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, and misbehaviour were all charges against her. Her bail was set at $350,000.
White was charged with all offences, as well as reckless endangerment, by the grand jury. The trial date for Sgt. White was originally set for October 13, 2016. All allegations against her were withdrawn on July 27, 2016.
Investigations by the federal government
On May 8, 2015, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said that the Department of Justice would conduct a review of the Baltimore Police Department’s existing policies in light of the “severe erosion of public trust” surrounding Gray’s death.
The investigation into charges that Baltimore police officers use excessive force, including lethal force, conduct unlawful searches, seizures, or arrests, and engage in biassed policing began immediately.
As of May 2015, three investigations into Baltimore police were underway: Lynch’s “pattern of practise” investigation, a joint review that began in the fall of 2014, and a civil rights investigation into Gray’s death.
On September 12, 2017, the US Department of Justice stated that the six Baltimore police officers involved in Freddie Gray’s detention and death in custody would not face criminal charges.
Freddie Gray Settlement
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said on September 8, 2015 that the city had struck a $6.4 million settlement with Gray’s family. The deal “should not be regarded as a judgement on the guilt or innocence of the officers facing trial,” Rawlings-Blake said, adding that it was reached to avoid “expensive and protracted litigation that would only make it more difficult for our city to recover.” Before they were sued, the city proposed a settlement.
Baltimore Rising, a documentary about Gray’s death and the accompanying protests, was released by HBO in 2017. It’s directed by Sonja Sohn and follows the aftermath of the tragedy in Baltimore.
In March 2017, the Undisclosed podcast released “The Killing of Freddie Gray,” a 16-part series that examined the evidence, political climate, and circumstances surrounding Freddie Gray’s murder.
In April 2022, HBO will air a six-hour miniseries titled “We Own This City,” which will centre on Gray’s death and aftermath.
It will be based on Justin Fenton’s book “We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops, and Corruption.”