By MARK UGOLINI
On July 27, Baltimore prosecutors dropped remaining charges against three cops awaiting trial for involvement in the death of Freddy Gray. Gray, a 25-year-old Black youth, died of injuries sustained while in police custody a week following his arrest on April 12, 2015.
Officers Garret Miller, William Porter, and Sgt. Alicia White were initially charged with multiple offenses including involuntary manslaughter, assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. All were scheduled for trial in the coming months.
The three other officers also charged in the case—Edward Nero, Caesar Goodson Jr., and Lt Brian Rice—were acquitted by a judge of all charges at bench trials earlier this year.
Gray’s death was due to a fatal spinal cord injury. Video and eyewitness accounts indicate that at least part of the injury likely occurred during a beating cops inflicted on Gray prior to being thrown into a police van.
Then, without calling for medical assistance despite Gray’s pleas to be taken to the hospital, Gray was subjected to a brutal and sadistic treatment well known to other victims of cop violence—what Baltimore police jokingly refer to a “rough ride” through the streets in the police van. This high-speed bumpy ride with erratic turns occurred while Gray was injured, handcuffed, and unsecured by a seat belt.
The trial of William Porter ended with a hung jury in December. Porter was the cop who went to “check on” Gray during the “rough ride” but made no attempt to secure him in his seat with a seat belt or call an ambulance for medical assistance.
Marilyn J. Mosby, the prosecutor in the case, said, “We do not believe Freddie Gray killed himself,” and called the decision to drop the charges “agonizing.” In a statement, she angrily blamed the police department for lack of cooperation and sabotage of prosecution efforts.
The July 27 New York Times reports that in Gray’s Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood “residents unanimously agreed with Ms. Mosby’s assertion that Mr. Gray’s death was a homicide. Alethea Booze, 72, said she had witnessed the arrest. ‘He wasn’t hollering until two officers put that knee in his back and he was screaming,’ Ms. Booze said. “Everybody was screaming, ‘Call the ambulance, call the ambulance,’ and the officers didn’t do anything.”
The outrage over the death of Freddy Gray sparked massive peaceful protests against cop violence in Baltimore and cities around the country. Black Lives Matter, a leading organizer of these protests, spoke out against this injustice. Baltimore BLM leader DeRay Mckesson told the Times: “The dismissals are a reminder that the laws, practices, and policies justify the actions of the police at all costs. Freddy Gray should be alive today and someone should be held accountable for his death.”
Jeff Mackler, Socialist Action candidate for U.S. president, condemned the so-called U.S. “justice” system: “This whole sequence of acquittals and dismissals takes criminal Baltimore cops off the hook and is outrageous. Freddie Gray was brutalized by cops before he got into the police van, then tortured with a ‘rough ride’ by cops who made no effort whatsoever to provide him the medical attention he so desperately needed.
“This is further proof that capitalism, a system that breeds racism and profits from it, will not provide justice without massive struggles of working people and oppressed communities around the country. We call for an immediate end to cop violence in minority and working-class communities. Prosecute and jail killer cops!”