The six Baltimore police officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody on April 19th, 2015 will not face federal charges due to insufficient evidence, the Justice Department announced Tuesday. The DOJ had been pursuing a criminal civil rights investigation after all six officers were cleared of criminal charges brought by the Baltimore prosecutor, ranging from manslaughter to murder, for their role in Gray’s death from a spinal chord injury while being transported in the back of a police van. Gray’s death led to days of protests and unrest in Baltimore.
With the closure of the civil rights investigation, no officer has been held criminally responsible for Gray’s death; all six of the officers are still employed by the Baltimore Police Department. Five of the officers still face internal disciplinary hearings. “After an extensive review of this tragic event, conducted by career prosecutors and investigators, the Justice Department concluded that the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Caesar Goodson, Officer William Porter, Officer Garrett Miller, Officer Edward Nero, Lieutenant Brian Rice, or Sergeant Alicia White willfully violated Gray’s civil rights,” the DOJ said in a statement Tuesday. “Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed without prosecution.”
From the Baltimore Sun:
According to prosecutors, Gray died after suffering a fatal spinal cord injury in the back of a Baltimore police transport van following his arrest on the morning of April 12, 2015. Police accused Gray of running unprovoked in a high-crime area in West Baltimore and of being in possession of an illegal knife at the time of his arrest. He was handcuffed and shackled in the transport van, but not restrained by a seat belt…
The [DOJ] said the evidence did not show Gray was given a “rough ride” in the back of a police transport van—a theory of state prosecutors—and did not prove that officers were aware that their failure to secure Gray with a seat belt put him in danger. Evidence did not show that officers knew he was injured and needed immediate medical care, the DOJ statement said.
“The bar for charging police officers with federal civil rights violations is extremely high, and prosecutions are rare,” according to the New York Times. “This year, the Justice Department announced similar decisions in two other high-profile civil rights investigations in which men died at the hands of police officers: the shooting death of Alton Sterling, a black man in Louisiana, and the shooting death of James Boyd, a mentally ill man in New Mexico.”