Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday that the six officers involved in the arrest and transport of Freddie Gray have been criminally charged after he died in their custody.
The news was greeted with joy across the city. The Baltimore Sun reports:
Desmond Taylor, 29, shouted in jubilee in front of the War Memorial Building.
“I did not expect this, but I prayed for it,” he said. “This day means that your actions bring consequences in Baltimore City.”
Word traveled quickly of the charges against the officers. In West Baltimore, cars honked their horns. A man hanging out of a truck window pumped his fists and yelled; “Justice! Justice! Justice!”
At the corner where Gray was arrested, 53-year-old Willie Rooks held his hands up in peace signs and screamed, “Justice!”
The prosecutor threw the book at the officers:
Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, who was the driver of a police van that carried Gray through the streets of Baltimore, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two vehicular manslaughter charges and misconduct in office. A man who answered the phone at Goodson’s home declined to comment and hung up the phone.
Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Lt. Brian Rice, 41, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Sgt. Alicia White, 30, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Officer Edward Nero, 29, was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Officer Garrett Miller, 26, was charged with second-degree assault, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.
It’s apparent that the prosecutors believe that the driver, Officer Goodson, deliberately drove the police transport van to maximize the discomfort of Gray, who was not buckled up despite it being department policy. The New York Times explains:
In Baltimore, they call it a “rough ride.” In Philadelphia, they had another name for it that hints at the age of the practice — a “nickel ride,” a reference to old-time amusement park rides that cost five cents. Other cities called them joy rides.
The slang terms mask a dark tradition of police misconduct in which suspects, seated or lying face down and in handcuffs in the back of a police wagon, are jolted and battered by an intentionally rough and bumpy ride that can do as much damage as a police baton without an officer having to administer a blow
It’s unknown if any of the officers charged in the case have had their charges reduced for cooperating with the prosecutor.
One issue that will need to be resolved is a possible conflict of interest involving prosecutor Mosby:
The Fraternal Order of Police asked Mosby to appoint an independent prosecutor in the case, citing her ties to the Gray family’s attorney, William Murphy, as well as her lead prosecutor’s connections to members of the local media. Murphy donated $5,000 to Mosby’s campaign and served on her transition committee.
“While I have the utmost respect for you and your office, I have very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest presented by your office conducting an investigation in this case,” Ryan wrote in his letter.
The FOP letter also expresses concerns regarding Mosby’s marriage to Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby.
“Most importantly, it is clear that your husband’s political future will be directly impacted, for better or worse, by the outcome of your investigation,” the letter states. “In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety or a violation of the Professional Rules of Professional Responsibility, I ask that you appoint a Special Prosecutor to determine whether or not any charges should be filed.”
Mosby responded to that request by saying: “The people of Baltimore City elected me and there is no accountability with a special prosecutor.”
“I will prosecute any case within my jurisdiction,” she added.
The lengthy process of bringing the defendants to trial now begins. But the protests that became violent earlier this week will not stop and it wouldn’t take much to set the mob off again.