BALTIMORE: Six Baltimore police officers were charged Friday over the death of a 25-year-old African-American whose spine was snapped in custody, in a surprise announcement after days of riots and protests in the US city.
The charges ranging from second-degree murder and manslaughter to misconduct were set out by Maryland state prosecutor Marilyn Mosby, with all six officers taken into custody during the day.
“The findings of our comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiner´s determination that Mr. Gray´s death was a homicide have led us to believe that we have probable cause to file criminal charges,” Mosby said.
Mosby said Gray “suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained” inside a moving police van.
En route to the Western District police station, the police van stopped at least three times, including once to pick up a suspect in an unrelated case.
Cheers broke out when Mosby unveiled the charges on the steps of Baltimore´s war memorial, across the street from city hall, a focal point of protests demanding justice over Gray´s death.
Baltimore´s police union condemned what it called “an egregious rush to judgement” as it defended the officers and expressed confidence they would be vindicated.
“We believe that these officers will be vindicated as they have done nothing wrong,” said Michael Davey, a lawyer for the city´s Fraternal Order of Police.
“I have never seen such a hurried rush to file criminal charges,” he added, suggesting that prosecutors had rushed their investigation because of the pressure from demonstrations.
Many in this East Coast port city of 620,000, about an hour´s drive north of Washington, had expected Mosby to say that the case was still under investigation.