Bringing to close one of the highest-profile criminal cases in Baltimore history, prosecutors dropped all charges against the three police officers accused in the death of Freddie Gray.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby chose to drop the charges against Officer Garrett Miller, Officer William Porter, and Sgt. Alicia White after Judge Barry G. Williams acquitted three other officers who had been charged with similar crimes.
Mosby acknowledged that following those acquittals, it would have been very difficult to secure convictions in the remaining cases. At the same time, she stood by her initial decision to bring the charges since the medical examiners did rule Gray’s death a homicide.
“It’s something that I’ve been grappling with for some time,” she said of her decision to drop the case. “It’s not something that was overnight.”
Gray, 25, died from severe neck injuries he sustained in the back of a police van. The tragic incident transpired during a time of national debate over the deaths of black men in altercations with law enforcement.
In the days following Gray’s death, peaceful demonstrations emerged across the city of Baltimore. On the day of his funeral, tensions reached a breaking point and peaceful protests turned into rioting, looting, and arson.
Mosby charged the six Baltimore officers involved with the incident with offenses ranging from misconduct in the office to second-degree depraved-heart murder. All of the officers pled not guilty and their attorneys argued that the prosecution had no evidence to support any of the charges.
Since dropping the charges, Mosby has named a number of factors that she believes hindered her ability to secure a conviction, including having to rely on the Police Department to investigate its own.
“For those that believe I’m anti-police, it’s simply not the case. I’m anti-police brutality,” she stated. “The only loss and the greatest loss in all of this was that of Freddie Gray’s life.”
Despite her inability to find justice for Freddie Gray, Mosby made it very clear that her office will continue to “fight for a fair and equitable justice system for all.”
The six officers will return to work, though they all face possible disciplinary action. The Montgomery County Police Department, with assistance from Howard County police, are conductive administrative investigations into the officers’ actions.
According to a survey of 188 judges, prosecutors, public defenders, sheriffs, and police, as many as 10,000 people in the U.S. may be wrongfully convicted of serious crimes each year. Just as tragic, however, is the number of people who have done something morally or legally reprehensible, yet go unpunished because of extenuating legal circumstances.