The Department Of Justice announced Tuesday that the six Baltimore officers involved in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray will not be prosecuted.
The Justice Department released an official statement outlining why they have chosen not to move forward with prosecution. In the statement, they claim to have "insufficient evidence to support federal criminal civil rights charges" against the officers.
Gray was arrested by Baltimore police on April 12, 2015, and died a week later after suffering a neck injury while in police custody. His death sparked massive protests in Baltimore and around the nation. People couldn't seem to understand how a man who was arrested after a chase on foot could have his spinal cord injured in police custody, and nothing happens to the involved police officers. After two years of fighting, the police officers will not be charged after all.
According the the Baltimore Sun, who broke the news on Tuesday, the Justice Department 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.
"The officers made no admissions that would allow us to prove that any of the officers were actually aware that transporting Gray without a seat belt in the back of a police wagon would create a substantial risk of serious harm," The Justice Department said in their statement. "The department also cannot prove that the officers received training regarding substantial risks or harms associated with the transportation of un-seat-belted detainees. The department reviewed longstanding BPD policies for seat-belting that were in effect until just days before Gray's arrest, and those policies afforded officers the discretion to refrain from seat-belting detainees if the officers believed there were security risks involved."
In 2015, after Gray's death, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby filed criminal charges against six police officers. The charges ranged from misconduct in office and reckless endangerment to manslaughter and second-degree depraved heart murder. However, all of the officers pleaded not guilty and none were convicted.
Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, released a statement Tuesday saying that Baltimore “desperately needs” systemic policing reforms that include mechanisms for holding officers accountable.
"We know that spines do not break without cause, and the DOJ and BPD's credibility to make change a reality in Baltimore hinges not just on their ability to institute much-needed reforms to police training, policies, and practices, but also on their success in bringing to justice officers who abuse their power and take the lives of innocent residents," Ifill said.
City activist Kwame Rose spoke on the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute the six officers. “Now it’s just becoming more and more apparent that … the issue of policing has to change from outside the system, as opposed to believing that the system is gonna change it.”
Freddie Gray, like so many black men and women in this country, deserves justice. However, our Federal Justice Department won't be the ones to give it to him.