— -- Prosecutors dropped all charges against the three remaining Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray despite holding firm in their belief that Gray's death was 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," Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby told reporters Wednesday, delivering a strong defense for her decision to prosecute six officers involved in Gray's death.
"Those that believe that I’m anti-police, that is simply not the case, I am anti-police brutality," Mosby said, adding that she was elected as chief prosecutor for Baltimore City and took an oath to seek justice.
"I take my oath very seriously," she said.
Earlier Wednesday morning, prosecutors announced they would not pursue the remaining cases related to the arrest and death of Gray at the pre-trial motions hearing for Officer Garrett Miller, the fifth officer to stand trial.
Their decision to drop the charges brought to an end one of the most closely watched police prosecutions in the country. The gag order against all parties involved, including prosecutors and defense attorneys and their clients, was also rescinded.
“After much thought and prayer it has become clear that without being able to work with an independent investigatory agency from the very start, without having a say in the election of whether cases proceed in front of a judge or jury, without communal oversight of police in this community, without substantive reforms to the current criminal justice system, we could try this case 100 times and cases just like it and we would still end up with the same result," Mosby said, standing across the street from the location where Gray was arrested in April 2015.
Mosby charged six officers last year for their role in the arrest and death of Gray, a 25-year-old black man who died while in police custody after he suffered a fatal spinal injury while being transported in the back of a police van.
Prosecutors aimed to show that the officers who arrested him were criminally liable for failing to secure Gray with a seat belt after he was loaded into the transport vehicle.
Gray died seven days after sustaining his injuries. On the day of Gray's funeral, the city of Baltimore erupted into chaos, with violent protests and rioting taking hold of the city.
But prosecutors failed to convict four officers who were tried in separate trials earlier this year. Three officers were acquitted by Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams, who decided the outcome of the trials because the defendants each chose to be tried by him rather than a jury.
Officer Edward Nero was found not guilty of all charges in May. Officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the police transport van, faced the most serious charge of second-degree depraved heart murder for giving Gray an alleged “rough ride” was found not guilty earlier this summer. And Lieutenant Brian Rice, the highest-ranking officer involved with the case, was cleared of all charges just two weeks ago.
The only officer to elect a jury trial was Officer William Porter, who’s trial ended with a hung jury last December. He was due to be retried in September of this year. Sgt. Alicia White’s trial was slated for October, the sixth and final officer to stand trial.
All of the officers involved in the case pleaded not guilty.
Throughout the trials, prosecutors tried honing in on each officer's experience and training, suggesting that they should have known the consequences and risks of failing to secure a shackled prisoner with a seat belt.
But Williams disagreed and delivered not guilty verdicts for Nero, Goodson, and Rice, and said prosecutors failed to prove in court that the defendants acted in a grossly negligent manner, and that they could not prove the officers acted unreasonably because there was no way to determine if they knew the risks involved. He also said that prosecutors were unable to provide evidence to prove that the officers acted in a corrupt manner.
Williams was oftentimes incredulous throughout the trials, repeatedly admonishing prosecutors for their failure in bringing forth any credible evidence that could prove criminal wrongdoing.
During Nero's case in May, Williams grilled prosecutors during closing arguments -- questioning whether a crime was even committed.
“So, every time there’s an arrest without probable justification – it is a crime?” Williams asked. “I’m trying to make sure it was a criminal assault. Touching Freddie Gray is assault?”
“We believe that the search and arrest without justification are assault, your honor,” Deputy State’s Attorney Janice Bledsoe responded. “There’s no question about that.”
Mosby on Wednesday said despite the acquittals from Williams, "We must respect the verdict rendered by the judge," and that her goal all along was to "always seek justice over convictions."