The Baltimore state's attorney announced charges against six police officers on Friday
Good morning. First and foremost I need to publicly express my sympathies for the family and loved ones of Freddie Gray. I had the opportunity to meet with Mr Gray’s family to discuss some of the details of the case and the procedural steps going forward. I assured his family that no one is above the law and that I would pursue justice on their behalf.
To the thousands of city residents, community organizers, faith leaders and political leaders that chose to march peacefully throughout Baltimore, I commend your courage to stand for justice. I also commend the brave men and women, both in uniform and out, who have stepped up Monday night to protect our communities from those who wish to destroy it.
As the city’s Chief Deputy Prosecutor I’ve been sworn to uphold justice and to treat every individual within the jurisdiction of Baltimore city equally and fairly under the law. I take this oath seriously and I want the public to know that my administration is committed to creating a fair and equitable justice system for all. No matter what your occupation, your age, your race, your color or your creed. It is my job to examine and investigate the evidence of each case and apply those facts to the elements of a crime, in order to make a determination as to whether individuals should be prosecuted. This is a tremendous responsibility, but one that I saw and accepted when the citizens of Baltimore city elected me as the state’s attorney, and it is precisely what I did in the case of Freddie Gray.
Once alerted about this incident on April 13, investigators from my police integrity unit were deployed to investigate the circumstances surrounding Mr. Gray’s apprehension. Over the course of our independent investigation, in the untimely death of Mr. Gray, my team worked around the clock; 12 and 14 hour days to canvas and interview dozens of witnesses; view numerous hours of video footage; repeatedly reviewed and listened to hours of police video tape statements; surveyed the route, reviewed voluminous medical records; and we leveraged the information made available by the police department, the community and family of Mr. Gray.
The findings of our comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiner’s determination that Mr. Gray’s death was a homicide that we received today, has led us to believe that we have probable cause to file criminal charges.
The statement of probable cause is as follows:
On April, 12 2015 between 8:45 and 9:15 a.m., near the corner of North Avenue and Mount Street. Lt. Rice of the Baltimore Police Department while on bike patrol with Officer Garrett Miller and Edward Nero made eye contact with Freddie Carlos Gray Jr.
Having made eye contact with Mr. Gray, Mr. Gray subsequently ran from Lt. Rice. Lt. Rice then dispatched over departmental radio that he was involved in a foot pursuit at which time bike patrol officers and Nero began to pursue Mr. Gray. Having come in contact with pursuing officers, Mr. Gray surrendered to Officers Miller and Nero in the vicinity in the 1700 block of Presbury Street.
Officer Miller and Nero then handcuffed Mr. Gray and moved him to a location a few feet away from his surrendering location Mr. Gray was then placed in a prone position with his arms handcuffed behind his back. It was at this time that Mr. Gray indicated he could not breath and requested an inhaler to no avail. Officer Miller and Nero then placed Mr. Gray in a seated position and substantially found a knife clipped to the inside of his pants pocket. The blade of the knife was folded into the handle. The knife was not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland law. These officers then removed the knife and placed it on the sidewalk.
Mr. Gray was then placed back down on his stomach at which time Mr. Gray began to flail his legs and scream as Officer Miller placed Mr. Gray in a restraining technique known as a leg lace. While Officer Nero physically held him down against him will while a BPD wagon arrived to transport Mr. Gray.
Lt. Rice, Officer Miller and Officer Nero failed to establish probable cause for Mr. Gray’s arrest as no crime had been committed by Mr. Gray. Accordingly Lt. Rice Officer MIller and Office Nero illegally arrested Mr. Gray. Upon arrival of the transport wagon driven by Officer Caesar Goodson. Lt. Rice Officer Miller and Officer Nero loaded Mr. Gray into the wagon and at no point was he secured by a seatbelt while in the wagon contrary to a BPD general order. Lt. Rice then directed the BPD wagon to stop at Baker Street. At Baker Street, Lt. Rice, Officer Nero and Officer Miller removed Mr. Gray from the wagon, placed flexi-cuffs on his wrists, placed leg shackles on his ankles and completed required paperwork.
Officer Miller, Officer Nero and Lt. Rice then loaded Mr. Gray back into the wagon, placing him on his stomach, head first onto the floor of the wagon. Once again Mr. Gray was not secured by a seatbelt in the wagon contrary to a BPD general order.
Lt. Rice then directed Officer Goodson to transport Mr. Gray to the Central Booking & Intake Facility. Following transport from Baker Street, Mr. Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD wagon.
From Baker Street, Officer Goodson proceeded to the vicinity of Mosher Street and Fremont Avenue where he subsequently parked the wagon and proceeded to the back of the wagon to observe Mr. Gray. Despite stopping for the purpose of checking on Mr. Gray’s condition, at no point did he seek nor did he render any medical assistance for Mr. Gray. Officer Goodson returned to his driver’s seat and proceed toward the Central Booking & Intake facility with Mr. Gray still unsecured by a seatbelt contrary to a BPD general order.
Several blocks later, Officer Goodson called into dispatch that he needed to check on the status of his prisoner and requested additional units at Dolphin Street and Druid Hill Avenue. Officer William Porter arrived on the scene at Dolphin Street and Druid HIll Avenue. Both Officer Goodson and porter proceeded to the back of the wagon to check on the status of Mr. Gray’s condition. Mr. Gray at that time requested help and indicated that he could not breathe. Officer Porter asked Mr. Gray if he needed a medic at which time Mr. Gray indicated at least twice that he was in need of a medic. Officer Porter then physically assisted Mr. Gray from the floor of the van to the bench however despite Mr. Gray’s appeal for a medic, both officers assessed Mr. Gray’s condition and at no point did either of them restrain Mr. Gray per BPD general order nor did they render or request medical assistance.
While discussing the transportation of Mr. Gray for medical attention, a request for additional units was made for an arrest at the 1600 West North Avenue. Officer Porter left the vicinity of Druid Hill Avenue to assist in the arrest of another prisoner at North Avenue. Despite Mr. Gray’s obvious and recognized need for medical assistance, Officer Goodson in a grossly negligent manner chose to respond to the 1600 block of West North Avenue with Mr. Gray still unsecured by a seatbelt in the wagon without rendering to or summoning medical assistance for Mr. Gray.
Officer Goodson arrived at North Avenue to transport the individual arrested at the location of North Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue at which time he was again met by Officer Nero, Miller and Porter. Once the wagon arrived, Officer Goodson walked to the back of the wagon and again opened the doors to the wagon to make observations of Mr. Gray.
Sgt. Alicia White, Officer Porter and Officer Goodson observed Mr. Gray unresponsive on the floor of the wagon. Sgt. White who is responsible for investigating two citizen complaints pertaining to Mr. Gray’s illegal arrest spoke to the back of Mr. Gray’s head. When he did not respond, she did nothing further despite the fact that she was advised that he needed a medic. She made no effort to look or assess or determine his condition.
Despite Mr. Gray’s seriously deteriorating medical condition, no medical assistance was rendered or summoned for Mr. Gray at that time by any officer.
After completing the North Avenue arrest and loading the additional prisoner into the opposite side of the wagon containing Mr. Gray, Officer Goodson then proceeded to the Western District Station where contrary to the BPD general order, he again failed to restrain Mr. Gray in the wagon for at least the fifth time.
At the Western District Police Station the defendant arrested at North Avenue was unloaded, escorted and secured inside of the police station prior to attending to Mr. Gray.
By the time Officer Zachary Novak and Sgt. White attempted to remove Mr. Gray from the wagon, Mr. Gray was no longer breathing at all. A medic was finally called to the scene where upon arrival, the medic determined Mr. Gray was now in cardiac arrest and was critically and severely injured.
Mr. Gray was rushed to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma where he underwent surgery. On April 19, 2015, Mr. Gray succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead. The manner of death deemed homicide by the Maryland Medical Examiner is believed to be the result of a fatal injury that occurred while Mr. Gray was unrestrained by a seatbelt in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department wagon.
All events occurred in Baltimore City State of Maryland. While each of these officers are presumed innocent until proven guilty, we have brought the following charges:
Officer Caesar Goodson is being charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree negligent assault, manslaughter by vehicle by means of gross negligence, manslaughter by vehicle by means of criminal negligence, misconduct in office by failure to secure prisoner, failure to render aid.
Officer William Porter is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault in the second degree, misconduct in office.
Lt. Brian Rice is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault in the second degree, assault in the second degree, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.
Officer Edward Nero is being charged with assault in the second degree intentional, assault in the second degree negligent, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.
Officer Garrett Miller is being charged with intentional assault in the second-degree, assault in the second-degree negligent, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.
Sgt. Alicia White is being charged with manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, misconduct in office.
While I am committed to transparency, what I have revealed here today is now a matter of public record. However, the evidence we have collected and continue to collect cannot ethically be released to the public and I strongly condemn anyone in law enforcement with access to trial evidence who has leaked information prior resolution of this case. You are are only damaging our ability to conduct a fair and impartial process for all parties involved.
I hope that as we move forward with this case everyone will respect due process and refrain from doing anything that would jeopardize our ability to seek justice.
To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America: I heard your call for ‘No justice, no peace.’ Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.
To those that are angry, hurt or have their own experiences of injustice at the hands of police officers I urge you to channel that energy peacefully as we prosecute this case I have heard your calls for ‘No justice, no peace,’ however your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of Freddie Gray.
To the rank and file officers of the Baltimore Police Department, please know that these accusations of these six officers are not an indictment on the entire force.
I come from five generations of law enforcement. My father was an officer, my mother was an officer, several of my aunts and uncles, my recently departed and beloved grandfather was one of the founding members of the first black police organization in Massachusetts. I can tell you that the actions of these officers will not and should not, in any way, damage the important working relationships between police and prosecutors as we continue to fight together to reduce crime in Baltimore. Thank you for your courage, committee and sacrifice for the betterment of the community.
Lastly, I’d like to thank my team for working around the clock since the day that we learned of this tragic incident. We have conducted a thorough and independent investigation of this case. This independent investigation was led by my deputy state attorneys, Janice Bledsoe and Michael Schatzow, my investigators Wayne Williams, Avon Mackle and the hardworking investigative team that were here and still are very much committed to pursuing justice.
I’d also like the Baltimore City Police department particularly Major Branford of the homicide unit and Rodney Hill of the Internal Affairs Division for providing us with a hard copy of the investigative material yesterday, information we already had. And lastly. I’d like to thank Baltimore City Sheriff’s Department in assisting with us as an independent law enforcement agency with police powers.
To the governor to this great state of Maryland, thank you for expediting the autopsy report which enabled us to do our job.
Last but certainly not least, to the youth of the city. I will seek justice on your behalf. This is a moment. This is your moment. Let’s insure we have peaceful and productive rallies that will develop structural and systemic changes for generations to come. You’re at the forefront of this cause and as young people, our time is now.