-- The Baltimore police officers who were charged in connection with the death of Freddie Gray are all back to work in paid administrative positions after charges were dismissed against the three remaining officers involved, according to the officers' attorneys and the Baltimore police union.
However, the officers still don't have their normal police powers, like making arrests. They will also face an internal affairs review that will determine whether or not they should be fired or disciplined.
The decision to dismiss the charges against Officers William Porter, Garrett Miller, and Sgt. Alicia White brought to an end one of the most closely watched police prosecutions in the country. Three other police officers were acquitted of all charges in separate bench trials by Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams, including Officer Caesar Goodson, who faced the most serious charge of depraved-heart murder.
Baltimore’s Police Commissioner Kevin Davis has requested that police in Montgomery County and Howard County conduct the internal review. The two agencies will conduct their own interviews, take statements and complete an investigation to determine whether the officers violated any office polices or procedures. At the conclusion of the investigation, the findings will be presented to Commissioner Davis and his staff, who may hold an administrative hearing to determine what disciplinary actions need to be taken.
Four of the officers who were charged with felonies were suspended without pay last year, but they can seek back pay while the internal review is conducted. Earlier this month, the city agreed to pay Goodson more than $87,000 in back pay after he was acquitted in June.
Gray died one week after he suffered a fatal spinal injury in the back of a police transport van in April 2015. Shortly after, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced the charges against the six officers involved in Gray's arrest.
Though the criminal investigation into Gray’s death is officially closed, prosecutors are standing firm in their belief that Gray’s death is a homicide.
“We do not believe that Gray killed himself. We stand by the medical examiner's determination that Freddie Gray’s death was a homicide," Mosby said Wednesday during a press conference.
The Baltimore police union yesterday called Mosby’s comments “outrageous” and “uncalled for,” saying they believe Mosby has her own agenda.
“The best investigative unit in this country found no wrongdoing, and I can guarantee you, when they investigated that because there was an in-custody death, there was no stone left unturned,” Lt. Gene Ryan, president of the Baltimore Fraternal Order of the Police Lodge 3, said.
“Not one of these officers woke up wanting to do anything negative to anyone,” Ivan Bates, an attorney for White, said.
“Everybody wanted to find out what happened to Freddie Gray. The Baltimore City Police, they did the investigation, and they said it was investigation. The Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office had an opportunity to do an in-depth investigation, and they did not,” Bates said. “It is the Baltimore City State's Attorney's Office that has denied justice to the Gray family, denied justice to these officers."
Lead Prosecutors Speak Out
The lead prosecutors involved in the Gray case broke their silence Thursday, one day after Mosby announced she was dismissing the charges.
Chief Deputy State's Attorney Michael Schatzow and Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe were tasked with trying to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers were negligent and criminally liable for Gray’s injury and subsequent death.
“I don’t think that we felt we were rushing, I don’t think we felt that there was material that was overlooked,” Schatzow said during a press conference Thursday morning. “We pieced together theory from facts.”
He added: “We can’t know what happened to Freddie Gray unless the people involved tell us what happened to Freddie Gray.” His comments echoed Mosby’s, who, in her decision to dismiss the remaining charges, slammed the Baltimore Police Department for being too biased.
“As you can see, whether investigating, interrogating, testifying, cooperating, or even complying with the state, we've all borne witness to an inherent bias that is a direct result of when police police themselves,” Mosby said.
In a statement, the Baltimore Police Department defended its investigation of the Gray case. "As the quality of this investigation has been called into question, [we] want to remind our residents that over 30 ethical, experienced, and talented detectives worked tirelessly to uncover facts."
Five of the six officers are suing Mosby and Maj. Samuel Cogen of the Baltimore Sheriff’s Office, the law enforcement officer who filed the charging documents against the officers. The lawsuits allege false arrest, false imprisonment, defamation, and other assertions. Mosby and Cogen have not commented on the lawsuits.