US Justice Department Won't Charge Baltimore Police Officers - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

US Justice Department Won't Charge Baltimore Police Officers

Posted: 09/13/2017 14:55:00 -04:00 Updated:

BALTIMORE (AP)- The U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday it won't bring federal civil rights charges against six Baltimore 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 the city.

The officers were charged by state prosecutors after Gray's neck was broken in the back of a police van in April 2015. The 25-year-old was handcuffed and shackled, but he was unrestrained by a seat belt.

The Justice Department said in a statement that while Gray's death was "undeniably tragic," federal prosecutors did not find enough evidence to prove the officers willfully violated his civil rights, a high legal threshold.

The decision not to bring federal charges against the officers means none of them will be held criminally responsible for Gray's death. Three officers were acquitted in state court, and Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby later dropped the remaining state cases.

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 administratively.

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.

It also 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. The federal agency entered into a court-enforceable agreement in January to reform the troubled police department.

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 Justice Department "determined that there wasn't a basis to move forward with the civil rights action," adding: "It's a good decision."

Civil rights advocates are watching closely how U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions handles investigations of officers involved in racially charged encounters and deaths. While he has promised to hold individual officers accountable for wrongdoing, he also said he intends to pull back on wide-ranging civil rights investigations of police agencies like the one in Baltimore, believing that too much federal scrutiny can hurt officer morale. Sessions had objected to Baltimore's consent decree, saying it may result in "a less safe city."

But bringing civil rights charges against police officers is exceptionally difficult in any administration. Authorities in such cases must prove an officer willfully violated someone's civil rights, a high standard of proof, a challenge that has complicated prosecutions in past police cases.

The Justice Department said its career prosecutors and the FBI devoted "significant time and resources" to investigating the case.

"To the extent that the officers violated department policy in failing to seatbelt Gray, those failures suggest civil negligence rather than the high standard of deliberate indifference," the department said in its statement. The agency also said it would be impossible for investigators to prove the officers intentionally ignored Gray's medical needs because he had vomit and blood on his face and appeared not to be breathing at the end of the ride, symptoms he did not shown earlier.

Baltimore's homicide rate began to soar after Gray's death in 2015, a year when the city saw 344 killings - which broke a 40-year record for homicides. Homicides and overdoses are now threatening to set new records in the city: There have been 245 homicides so far this year, compared to 214 at this time last year.

On Tuesday, local officials and experts gathered at a Maryland Senate committee hearing in Annapolis to address Baltimore's increasing violence. Sen. Nathaniel McFadden, a Baltimore Democrat, called on his colleagues to work together, saying "the whole state has a problem" when violence hits such high rates in Maryland's largest city.

"It is everywhere. Help us. Help the engine that runs this state. Address the problem because this is not just Baltimore city. This is the state of Maryland," McFadden said.

Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, announced plans last month for legislation to tighten sentencing for violent criminals to help quell the crime surge.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Ocean City Prepares for Memorial Day

    Ocean City Prepares for Memorial Day

    May 25, 2018 9:24 PM2018-05-26 01:24:00 GMT
    Friday, May 25 2018 9:24 PM EDT2018-05-26 01:24:50 GMT
    Memorial Day Weekend is the day resort towns on Delmarva wait all year for. Tourists arrive, lots of them.
    Ocean City is gearing up for yet another busy summer season.
    More
    Memorial Day Weekend is the day resort towns on Delmarva wait all year for. Tourists arrive, lots of them.
    Ocean City is gearing up for yet another busy summer season.
    More
  • Ellendale Woman Arrested for Multiple Charges

    Ellendale Woman Arrested for Multiple Charges

    May 26, 2018 10:26 PM2018-05-27 02:26:00 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 10:27 PM EDT2018-05-27 02:27:55 GMT
    ELLENDALE, Del.- An Ellendale woman has been charged by the Ellendale and Milton police departments after being pulled over this week. Ellendale Police say Ukemia Parker was wanted on felony theft charges by the Milton Police Department when the EllendaleMore
    ELLENDALE, Del.- An Ellendale woman has been charged by the Ellendale and Milton police departments after being pulled over this week. Ellendale Police say Ukemia Parker was wanted on felony theft charges by the Milton Police Department when the EllendaleMore
  • Pennsylvania Man Arrested in Seaford as an Out-of-State Fugitive

    Pennsylvania Man Arrested in Seaford as an Out-of-State Fugitive

    May 26, 2018 6:27 PM2018-05-26 22:27:00 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 9:56 PM EDT2018-05-27 01:56:34 GMT
    A Sussex County traffic stop leads to a Pennsylvania man arrested because of an active warrant for robbery.More
    A Sussex County traffic stop leads to a Pennsylvania man arrested because of an active warrant for robbery.More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Motorcyclist Dead in Ocean City Crash

    Motorcyclist Dead in Ocean City Crash

    May 26, 2018 3:45 PM2018-05-26 19:45:00 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 3:45 PM EDT2018-05-26 19:45:32 GMT
    OCEAN CITY, Md.--The Ocean City Police Department says a motorcyclist dead after a crash near 77th street. According to the department, officers were dispatched to the area of 77th Street and Coastal Highway around 12:30 p.m. The department says they wereMore
    OCEAN CITY, Md.--The Ocean City Police Department says a motorcyclist dead after a crash near 77th street. According to the department, officers were dispatched to the area of 77th Street and Coastal Highway around 12:30 p.m. The department says they wereMore
  • Ellendale Woman Arrested for Multiple Charges

    Ellendale Woman Arrested for Multiple Charges

    May 26, 2018 10:26 PM2018-05-27 02:26:00 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 10:27 PM EDT2018-05-27 02:27:55 GMT
    ELLENDALE, Del.- An Ellendale woman has been charged by the Ellendale and Milton police departments after being pulled over this week. Ellendale Police say Ukemia Parker was wanted on felony theft charges by the Milton Police Department when the EllendaleMore
    ELLENDALE, Del.- An Ellendale woman has been charged by the Ellendale and Milton police departments after being pulled over this week. Ellendale Police say Ukemia Parker was wanted on felony theft charges by the Milton Police Department when the EllendaleMore
  • UPDATED POST: Pedestrian Struck and Killed in Dewey Beach

    Pedestrian Struck and Killed in Dewey Beach

    May 25, 2018 7:30 AM2018-05-25 11:30:00 GMT
    Saturday, May 26 2018 6:06 PM EDT2018-05-26 22:06:54 GMT
    The Memorial Day holiday weekend got off to a rough start on the roadways after a man was hit and killed in Dewey Beach, Delaware early Friday morning.More
    The Memorial Day holiday weekend got off to a rough start on the roadways after a man was hit and killed in Dewey Beach, Delaware early Friday morning.More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Motorcyclist Dead in Ocean City Crash

    Motorcyclist Dead in Ocean City Crash

    The Ocean City Police Department says a motorcyclist dead after a crash near 77th street. According to the department, officers were dispatched to the area of 77th Street and Coastal Highway around 12:30 p.m. The department says they were responding to reports of a collision involving a SUV and motorcycle on the northbound lanes of Coastal Highway. The motorcyclist was found dead on the scene when first responders arrived.

    More

    The Ocean City Police Department says a motorcyclist dead after a crash near 77th street. According to the department, officers were dispatched to the area of 77th Street and Coastal Highway around 12:30 p.m. The department says they were responding to reports of a collision involving a SUV and motorcycle on the northbound lanes of Coastal Highway. The motorcyclist was found dead on the scene when first responders arrived.

    More
  • Update: Pedestrian Struck and Killed in Dewey Beach

    Update: Pedestrian Struck and Killed in Dewey Beach

    The Memorial Day holiday weekend got off to a rough start on the roadways after a man was hit and killed by a car in Dewey Beach early Friday morning. That man has now been identified.

    More

    The Memorial Day holiday weekend got off to a rough start on the roadways after a man was hit and killed by a car in Dewey Beach early Friday morning. That man has now been identified.

    More
  • Ocean View Bicyclist in Critical Condition After Crash

    Ocean View Bicyclist in Critical Condition After Crash

    A 76-year-old Ocean View man has suffered life threatening injuries after a being hit by a car Memorial Day weekend.

    More

    A 76-year-old Ocean View man has suffered life threatening injuries after a being hit by a car Memorial Day weekend.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices