Tag Archives: Baltimore

Freddie Gray’s death ruled ‘homicide’, charges against all 6 officers involved

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby says there is “probable casue to file criminal charges in the Freddie Gray case” of officers involved in Gray’s arrest, who later died of injuries he sustained while in custody in Baltimore, Maryland

Maryland State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby announced criminal charges against all six police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, which she declared “a homicide” and “an illegal arrest.” Five of the officers have been arrested.

“The findings of our comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiner’s determination that Mr. Gray’s death was a homicide ‒ which we received today ‒ has led us to believe that we have probably cause to file criminal charges,” Mosby announced at a press conference on Friday morning.

“Warrants have been executed, and five officers are in custody,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told reporters Friday afternoon.

“No one is above the law in our city. i was sickened and heartbroken at the reading of charges today,” the mayor said. “Justice must apply to all of us equally.”

After fleeing police on April 12, Gray was arrested and charged with carrying a switchblade knife, which is illegal in Baltimore City.

“The knife was not a switchblade and is lawful under Maryland law,” Mosby said, contradicting the charging documents.

Mosby said that Gray was not secured in the van with a seatbelt, which is against police regulations, and he was handcuffed and placed in leg irons. This led to his injuries, according to the investigation. During one of the stops police officers checked on Gray, saw that he was unresponsive, but failed to take any actions to assist him.

“The manner of death deemed a homicide by the Maryland state medical examiner is believed to be the result of a fatal injury that occurred while Mr. Gray was unrestrained by a seatbelt while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department wagon,” Mosby said.

Officer Caesar Goodson, 45, who drove the van, is 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 for failure to secure a prisoner, and failure to render aid.

Officer William Porter, 25, is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault in the second degree and misconduct in office.

Lieutenant Brian Rice, 41, who led the chase of Gray, is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, assault in the second degree, misconduct in office and false imprisonment.

Officers Edward Nero, 29, and Garrett Miller, 26, are being charged with assault in the second degree ‒ intentional; assault in the second degree ‒ negligent; misconduct in office; and false imprisonment.

Sergeant Alicia White, 30, is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, second degree assault and misconduct in office.

“A warrant has been issued for their arrests,” Mosby told reporters. “We filed the statement of charges this morning at about 9:30, 10 o’clock this morning.”

She would not comment on whether any of the officers had been arrested yet.

“While I am committed to transparency, what I have revealed here today is now a matter of public record. However, the evidence that we have collected and continue to collect cannot ethically be released to the public,” Mosby said when she finished reading the charges she had filed.

“I strongly condemn anyone in law enforcement with access to trial evidence who has leaked information prior to the resolution of this case,” she added. “You are only damaging our ability to conduct a fair and impartial process for all parties involved.”

Mosby also called for calm in Baltimore of the wake of her announcement.

“I heard your call for ‘no justice, no peace,” she said. “Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man.”

Freddie Gray not injured during arrest, slammed inside van – report

Screenshot from youtube.com video

The preliminary autopsy on Freddie Gray shows no evidence that his fatal injuries ‒ broken vertebrae and an injured voice box ‒ occurred during his arrest. It does show that he likely received a head injury while being transported, local WJLA reported.

Commissioner Anthony Batts announced Thursday morning that the Baltimore PD had turned over the results of its preliminary investigation to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City a day earlier than his self-imposed deadline.

The medical examiner found that Gray’s neck was most likely broken when he slammed into the back of the police transport van, sources who were briefed on the findings told the ABC affiliate.

He also suffered a head injury that appears to match a bolt in the back of the van.

“It’s also unclear whether Gray’s head injury was voluntary or was result of some other action,” WJLA said, referring to conflicting accounts of Gray’s actions while being transported.

Between the time he was arrested and the time he arrived at the police station on April 12, the police driving the van stopped four times, including one where they picked up a second detainee.

That witness claimed that Gray was banging his head against walls.

The autopsy showed no evidence of Gray doing that however, according to WBAL reporter Jayne Miller.

Sources told her that, by the time the van made its fourth stop to pick up the second man, Gray was already unresponsive. The man told WBAL that he heard some banging noises for four seconds after he was loaded into the transport, but did not see Gray or hear him talk.

Gray was not seatbelted while in the van, even after police placed him in leg shackles. It is against Baltimore Police Department policy not to belt in detainees.

“They came, they did their job, they regret that someone was killed. But in their hearts and in their minds, they think that they did the right thing. And they hurt behind the backlash of it more than anything, and being left out there with no support,” the relative of one of the six officers involved with Gray’s arrest told WBAL.

All six of the officers have been suspended, but only five of the six have given voluntary statements about the incident.

The Baltimore PD turned over the results of its preliminary investigation to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City on Thursday morning, Commissioner Anthony Batts announced. According to his self-imposed deadline, the initial report was not due until Friday.

National Guard arrives in Baltimore as police commissioner admits rioters ‘outnumbered us and outflanked’ cops

“These acts of violence and destruction of property cannot and will not be tolerated,” Hogan said at a late-night press conference. The governor also said he was deploying 500 state troopers and had asked for 5,000 officers from neighboring states to deal with the violence.

Batts said the National Guard would be used to take control of what he called “structures and fixed posts” to support police efforts to regain control of the city’s streets.

Baltimore City police said late Monday that two dozen people had been arrested. As the violence grew Monday, officers wearing helmets and wielding shields occasionally used pepper spray to keep the rioters back. For the most part, though, they relied on line formations to keep protesters at bay. After midnight Monday, authorities were still struggling to quell pockets of unrest.

The violence began hours after Monday’s funeral for Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died last week from a severe spinal cord injury he suffered in police custody. Gray’s fatal encounter with officers came amid the national debate over police use of force, especially when black suspects, like Gray, are involved. Gray was African-American. Police have declined to specify the races of the six officers involved in his arrest, all of whom have been suspended with pay while they are under investigation.

Gray’s family denounced the violence late Monday, saying it was not the way to honor him

“I think the violence is wrong,” Grays twin sister, Fredericka Gray, said. “I don’t like it at all.”

The attorney for Gray’s family, Billy Murphy, said the family had hoped to organize a peace march later in the week.

During Gray’s funeral Monday, police released a statement saying that the department had received a “credible threat” that three notoriously violent gangs are now working together to “take out” law enforcement officers. A police source told Fox News several gangs, including Black Gorilla Family, Bloods and Crips all had “entered into a partnership to take out law enforcement officers.”

The confrontation that sparked the violence stemmed from an online call for a “purge” that would begin at the Mondawmin Mall in west Baltimore and end downtown. The phrase is a reference to the 2013 movie “The Purge”,  which takes place in a world in which crime is made legal for one night only.

Alerted to the warning, authorities mobilized police officers to the Mondawmin Mall in west Baltimore, within a mile of where Gray was filmed being arrested and pushed into a police van April 12. The shopping center is a transportation hub for students at nearby schools.

At 3 p.m., the time of the reported “purge,” between 75 to 100 students on their way to the mall were greeted by police in riot gear. The students began throwing water bottles and rocks at the officers, who responded with tear gas and Mace.

As the crowds at Mondawmin Mall began to thin, the riot shifted about a mile away to the heart of an older shopping district near where Gray first encountered police.

Emergency officials were constantly thwarted as they tried to restore calm in the affected parts of the city of more than 620,000 people. Firefighters trying to put out a blaze at a CVS store were hindered by someone who sliced holes in a hose connected to a fire hydrant, spraying water all over the street and nearby buildings.

The smell of burned rubber wafted in the air in one neighborhood where youths were looting a liquor store. Police stood still nearby as people drank looted alcohol. Glass and trash littered the streets, and other small fires were scattered about. One person from a church tried to shout something from a megaphone as two cars burned.

Later Monday night, a massive fire erupted in East Baltimore that a mayoral spokesman initially said was connected to the riots. He later texted an AP reporter saying officials are still investigating whether there is a connection.

The Mary Harvin Transformation Center was under construction and no one was believed to be in the building at the time, said the spokesman, Kevin Harris. The center is described online as a community-based organization that supports youth and families.

Kevin Johnson, a 53-year-old resident of the area, said the building was to have been earmarked for the elderly. Donte Hickman, pastor of a Baptist church that has been helping to develop the center, shed tears as he led a group prayer near the firefighters who fought the blaze.

“My heart is broken because somebody obviously didn’t understand that we were for the community, somebody didn’t understand that we were working on behalf of the community to invest when nobody else would,” he said.

The focus of the rioting later shifted back to Mondawmin Mall, as people began looting clothing and other items from stores which had become unprotected as police moved away from the area. About three dozen officers returned, trying to arrest looters but driving many away by firing pellet guns and rubber bullets.

Downtown Baltimore, the Inner Harbor tourist attractions and the city’s baseball and football stadiums are nearly 4 miles away from the worst of the violence. While the violence had not yet reached City Hall and the Camden Yards area, the Orioles canceled Monday’s home game against the Chicago White Sox for safety precautions.

On Monday night, Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings and about 200 others, including ministers and mostly men, marched arm-in-arm through a neighborhood littered with broken glass, flattened aluminum cans and other debris, in an attempt to help calm the violent outbursts. As they got close to a line of police officers, the marchers went down on their knees. After the ministers got back on their feet, they walked until they were face-to-face with the police officers in a tight formation and wearing riot gear.

In a statement issued Monday, Attorney General Lynch said she would send Justice Department officials to the city in coming days, including Vanita Gupta, the agency’s top civil rights lawyer. The FBI and Justice Department are investigating Gray’s death for potential criminal civil rights violations.

Many who had never met Gray gathered earlier in the day in a Baltimore church to bid him farewell and press for more accountability among law enforcement.

The 2,500-capacity New Shiloh Baptist church was filled with mourners. But even the funeral could not ease mounting tensions.

 

Massive blaze destroys building in Baltimore following day of riots

Baltimore firefighters confer as they attack a fire set by rioters in a convenience store and residence at East Biddle Street and Montford Avenue during rioting in Baltimore, Maryland in the early morning hours of April 28, 2015.

Following a day of riots in Baltimore, a community center and apartments owned by the Southern Baptist Church in East Baltimore were set ablaze and burnt down before firefighters managed to contain the flames.

Firefighters were forced to respond to the three-alarm fire at 8:49pm, after the flames engulfed the five-story building at Gay and Federal streets

“We were able to dispatch units as soon as we got the call,” Baltimore Fire Department spokesman Capt. Roman Clark said, as law enforcement officers with shotguns cordoned off the fire hazard area. More than 90 firefighters responded to battle the flames.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Clark said, as riots following Freddie Gray’s funeral raged across the city. No one was injured in the East Baltimore blaze. A spokesman for the mayor of Baltimore, Kevin Harris, said the fire at the Mary Harvin Transformation Center was related to rioting in the city.

Firefighters managed to calm the fire just before 10:00pm and were spraying water over surrounding structures to ensure no flames spread.

The Southern Baptist Church was building the center to provide 60 affordable apartments and behavioral counseling for seniors. The construction was ongoing since 2006 by the Woda Group, a low-income housing developer.

“We’re going to rebuild. We’re going to come back strong from this,” the church’s pastor Donte Hickman told local media outlets. “This fire is going to spark a revival.”

Senior vice president of The Woda Group, Kevin Bell, also vowed to rebuild the housing and community center. “This does not make us go away,” he said.

The city lent $15 million towards the construction of the units. The State Department of Housing and Community Development granted another $200,000 last year toward the center.

The Southern Baptist Church fire is one of many the Baltimore City Fire Department has been battling as riots erupted throughout the city. Baltimore’s firefighters are taking precautions to protect themselves against violence.