Date: April 12, 2015
Officer: Caesar R. Goodson Jr., Garrett E. Miller, Edward M. Nero, William G. Porter, Lieutenant Brian W. Rice, Sergeant Alicia D. White
Charged: Charged with crimes including manslaughter and murder, no indictments
Freddie Gray was walking with his friends in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 12, 2015, when city officials say he made eye contact with an officer driving a transport van and began to run, leading the officer to pursue him. The officers in the van then patted Gray down and arrested him for possession of a switchblade, although he was carrying a legal knife with an “assisted opener.” This mistake may be because the Baltimore Police Department doesn’t train officers on identifying different kinds of knives. Eyewitness video of the arrest shows Gray being held down by two officers and screaming in pain. They held him in a hold known as a “leg lace,” which crosses a person’s ankles, brings their legs up while they’re face down, and keeps their torso on the ground. While officers claim Gray was only trying to attract attention to himself by screaming, witnesses say that his screams were real. They report seeing the use of a taser, an officer putting their knee in Gray’s neck, and Gray’s cries that the police were hurting his back and neck. He was put into the transport van with his hands behind his back and unsecured by a seatbelt, violating Baltimore police policy.
Jacqueline Jackson was a witness to the transport van’s second stop in which police placed leg restraints and an identification band on Gray. She reports seeing officers throw Gray face down and head first into the van’s metal interior. Jackson said, “You can hear him making noise, like, he’s in pain… It was just sad… I told them, ‘What are y’all doing to that young man?’ They told me I needed to mind my M-Fing business.” The autopsy detailed the fourth stop saying, “The assisting officer opened the doors and observed Mr. Gray lying belly down on the floor with his head facing the cabin compartment, and reportedly he was asking for help, saying he couldn't breathe, couldn't get up, and needed a medic...The officer assisted Mr. Gray to the bench and the van continued on its way.” Police say that the second passenger on the other side of the divider heard Gray kicking and banging through the divider, but the medical examiner said that would be impossible due to the injuries he sustained. She believes the noise may have been caused by a seizure.
The transport van continued to make a total of six stops, which took a total of approximately 45 minutes, and Gray was found unconscious in the back with a nearly severed spinal cord. He was in a coma for a week and died on April 19, 2015. His family says his spine was “80% severed” at his neck with three fractured vertebrae, causing him to lapse into a coma. He also suffered from a crushed voice box. The autopsy rules the cause of death as a homicide rather than an accident because officers failed to follow procedure “through acts of omission.” It reports that Gray suffered from a “high-energy impact,” sustaining injuries similar to those suffered by car crash victims. He was 25 years old.
The six officers involved in this case were suspended with pay and placed on administrative duty following Gray’s death. The Gray Family Attorney believes the arrest was illegal because the officers couldn’t have seen the knife through his pants. He says, “If you arrest a man illegally, the evidence you find afterwards is not admissible. There’s always the temptation – because you’re dealing with human beings – that they’re going to cover this up in a way that makes them look faultless.” Some witnesses to the stops say that they were never interviewed by detectives, and none of the witnesses were asked to testify at the trial. The officers faced no federal charges because the Justice Department ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the officers “willfully violated Gray’s civil rights.” The Baltimore state’s attorney charged the officers with crimes including manslaughter and murder, but they were all cleared of the charges. The six officers continued to work for the Baltimore Police Department.
Fenton, J. (2016, July 23). Autopsy of Freddie Gray shows 'high-energy' impact. Retrieved from https://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/freddie-gray/bs-md-ci-freddie-gray-autopsy-20150623-story.html
Graham, D. A. (2015, May 08). What Happened to Freddie Gray? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/04/the-mysterious-death-of-freddie-gray/391119/
Laughland, O., & Swaine, J. (2015, April 20). Six Baltimore officers suspended over police-van death of Freddie Gray. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/20/baltimore-officers-suspended-death-freddie-gray
McDonell-Parry, A., & Barron, J. (2018, June 25). Death of Freddie Gray: 5 Things You Didn't Know. Retrieved from https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/death-of-freddie-gray-5-things-you-didnt-know-129327/
Ruiz, R. R. (2017, September 12). Baltimore Officers Will Face No Federal Charges in Death of Freddie Gray. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/12/us/freddie-gray-baltimore-police-federal-charges.html
Stolberg, S. G., & Bidgood, J. (2016, July 27). All Charges Dropped Against Baltimore Officers in Freddie Gray Case. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/28/us/charges-dropped-against-3-remaining-officers-in-freddie-gray-case.html?module=inline