Six police officers were charged with homicide and assault by a Baltimore grand jury on Thursday, May 21, 2015 in the case of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.
Gray had been arrested by the officers on April 12 and charged with weapon possession. According to Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez, Gray surrendered “without the use of force.” One of the officers had taken out a taser, but did not use it on Gray.
Three officers approached Gray on their bicycles while a fourth officer joined them in the arrest afterwards. Another police officer drove the police van in which Gray was transported.
The officers that were present all claimed to not have used any sort of force, and when Gray was put into the police van, he was able to speak clearly and audibly. After exiting the vehicle, however, he was unable to communicate and had difficulty breathing. Gray seemed to have sustained fatal injuries to his spinal cord during the ride as he was not buckled into the van with a seat belt.
After Gray pleaded for an ambulance and an inhaler, the police officers finally called for medical attention at 9:24 a.m, and he was taken to the Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Many criticized the officers for not requesting medical attention as soon as Gray asked for it, including Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis.
Gray passed away a week later on April 19 while he was still in custody. The six officers – Caesar R. Goodson Jr., Garrett E. Miller, Edward M. Nero, Alicia D. White, Brian W. Rice and William G. Porter – were suspended according to the usual procedures that follow the death of a prisoner in custody, and the Baltimore Police Department spokesman Captain Eric Kowalczyk made sure to clarify that at that point, the suspension did not mean the officers were necessarily responsible for the death, or that they were the only ones responsible.
Marilyn J. Mosby, the state-appointed attorney for Baltimore as well as the wife of Baltimore city councilman, Nick Mosby, initially filed charges against the officers and was determined to seek justice on behalf of Gray. She publicly announced on May 1 that she had valid reason and evidence to press charges against the six officers for 26 different crimes.
Mosby had been working on the case for two weeks, showing valid evidence to the grand jury and presenting new information to the jury as it was discovered. She then announced the indictment during a press conference on Thursday.
Attorneys for the officers wanted Mosby to be removed from the case because she seemed to be “biased” and had self-interest linked to the case, but she remained.
“Marilyn Mosby is so hard-working and persevering,” said freshman Anjali Paliwal. “Nowadays, people in general do not usually stand up for what is right out of fear of the public and the government. She is a woman of color letting the country know that she isn’t going to let police brutality slide, and that is amazing.”
A video of the arrest, recorded on a cell phone by a bystander, was publicly released following the arrest and sparked a national outcry. The video shows Gray being dragged by the police officers into the van, and Gray screaming. A woman who knew Gray tried to ask him if he was alright, but he apparently only responded with the words “I can’t breathe” and continued to yell.
The city of Baltimore responded to the video with violent riots and protests. The violence became so prevalent that the Baltimore Orioles had to close off their May 29 game from the public, playing their game in an empty stadium.
Following the release of the video, the entire country once again began to voice their opinions on the police using force and cruelty, taking to social media to express their opinions.
Sophomore Justine Tarsillo said, “Social media is always flooded when things like this happen. People think they can change things by sitting behind their screens and typing furiously, but they’re just throwing ideas around and they aren’t helping the people who are being injured in riots and protests.”
What do you think people can do in response to events like this? How do you feel about the indictment of the officers?