Baltimore cops involved in Freddie Gray death face internal police charges

Baltimore cops involved in Freddie Gray death face internal police charges
Three Baltimore police officers who were involved in the 2015 arrest that led to the death of Freddie Gray face termination and two others brief suspensions, according to a new report. No officers involved in Gray's death have been convicted.

Those facing internal charges and who may be fired include Baltimore Police Department Officer Caesar Goodson, Sergeant Alicia White and Lieutenant Brian Rice, the highest-ranking officer involved in Gray's death. Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller may be suspended for five days without pay, the Baltimore Sun reported.

The potential charges stem from an investigation of the case by the police departments in nearby Montgomery and Howard Counties, which were asked by the Baltimore PD to conduct a probe. The counties gave the city their report on May 12, the Sun reported, but it has not been released to the public.

The internal charges are based on whether the officers were found to have broken department rules. A police spokesman would not comment to the Sun about the charges while the officers could not be reached for comment.

Michael E. Davey, an attorney for the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police union who handles internal affairs cases, said the officers were charged with "violations of policy and procedure."

Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died in April 2015, a week after he suffered spinal cord injuries while being transported in a police van with handcuffs on and without being secured with a seat belt.

He had been arrested for allegedly possessing an illegal switchblade. Police chased Gray only when they "made eye contact" with him, officers said, which caused the young man to run "unprovoked upon noticing police presence."

Only then did police find the knife. Witnesses have claimed severe police brutality against Gray while police claimed Gray was taken into custody "without the use of force or incident."

Six officers involved in Gray's death faced charges including manslaughter and second-degree murder. They all pleaded not guilty.

Rice, Nero and Goodson – who drove the van carrying Gray – were acquitted last year, while prosecutors later dropped charges against White, Miller and William Porter, the first Baltimore PD officer of the six to face criminal charges. Porter's initial case ended in a mistrial, and the charges against him were dropped before his new trial.

The five officers were informed of the charges on Friday, but Porter is not facing internal charges. The officers facing charges could either take the punishment or decide to contest the charges before an internal discipline panel, proceedings of which are open to the public.

Gray's death triggered immense outrage and protests in Baltimore, adding to tensions present across the US between law enforcement and civilians, especially in communities of color.

Prompted by Gray's death, a 2015 investigation of the Baltimore PD by the US Department of Justice found that the department was conducting unconstitutional stops, searches and arrests, disproportionately targeting African Americans, using excessive force and retaliating against individuals for engaging in constitutionally-protected expression. The city and the DOJ came to a reform agreement in January.

Last month, US Attorney General Jeff Sessions requested a delay in the police reform plan for the Baltimore PD set by the Obama administration. A federal judge rejected that delay request.