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Six Baltimore officers face criminal charges after Freddie Gray's death

After days of rioting in US city Baltimore, the state's attorney announced yesterday that six police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray will face criminal charges.

Gray, a 25-year-old black man, fell into a coma after suffering a spinal cord injury in the back of a police van under the custody of the police - and died one week later.

His death sparked massive unrest in the city, which turned violent at times. Baltimore is now under curfew and patrolled by National Guard troops.

The State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby charged the police officer who drove the van with murder while five others were charged with involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, second-degree assault, false imprisonment and misconduct in office.

 

 

The announcement of these charges led to widespread cheer and celebrations all across Baltimore.

Richard Shipley, Gray's stepfather, said: "These charges are an important step in getting justice for Freddie."

Mosby added that Gray was also illegally arrested and confirmed that he suffered the spinal injury while unrestrained in the police van.

 

 

Previous reports said that Gray (below) ran after making eye contact with the police, which resulted in the officers giving chase.

It was then reported that the officers found a switchblade on him, which led to the arrest.

However Mosby said: "The knife was not a switchblade, and it is lawful."

She added that since there was no probable cause for arrest, it was an illegal arrest.

The prosecutor also said that the officers did not render medical assistance despite Gray's repeated requests.

Gray was arrested in a prone position, with his hands handcuffed behind his back.

"It was at this time that Mr Gray indicated that he could not breathe and requested an inhaler to no avail," said Mosby.

They then placed Gray in the van, which made four stops for various reasons. Gray, who was unrestrained in the van, then injured his neck, which made him deteriorate further.

After the first stop, the officers put flex cuffs on his wrists, leg shackles on his ankles while the officers completed their paperwork.

They then put Gray back into the wagon, placing him on his stomach on the floor. 

Gray's family shocked that charges against officers filed

The charges were a swift and surprising development for many including Gray's family.

Their lawyer William H. Murphy said that the family was in shock. He said that "it was a good shock that justice had been approached in the forthright and courageous manner by this prosecutor."

Mosby also appealed to the Baltimore residents to restore peace in the city.

She said: "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."

Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby’s decision stood in sharp contrast to cases last year in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City where prosecutors found officers had not broken the law in the deaths of unarmed black men and grand juries declined to indict them. Those cases set off weeks of sometimes violent protests. 

Sources: Baltimore Sun, Reuters, The New York Times 


Related report: S'porean student in Baltimore: 'I saw city burning'

 

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