A Baltimore police officer was charged with murder and five others with lesser charges in the death of a black man who suffered a critical neck injury while riding inside a police van, the city’s chief prosecutor said on Friday.
Freddie Gray, who died in hospital a week after his arrest on April 12, was in handcuffs and shackles but otherwise was not restrained inside the van, a violation of police department policy, prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said at a news conference.
The Maryland state medical examiner had ruled Gray’s death a homicide, Mosby said. The officer charged with murder was the driver of the vehicle. She said the officers failed to give Gray the medical attention he asked for and that his arrest was unlawful.
The death of 25-year-old Gray has become the latest flashpoint in a national outcry over the treatment of African-Americans and other minority groups by U.S. law enforcement.
“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,” said Mosby, a 35-year-old African-American who took office in January.
The decision to bring charges and the speed at which Mosby made the announcement, a day after the police department handed over an internal report, seemed to catch Baltimore and the country by surprise.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said five of the six officers were under arrest.
The charges brought jubilation and relief to people on the streets of West Baltimore, the neighborhood where angry people looted, burned cars and clashed with police on Monday night.