The death of Freddie Gray weighed heavily on a Maryland grand jury, which indicted all six Baltimore police officers charged in that case. Gray died from his injuries while in police custody.
According to Juliet Linderman of the Associated Press, the grand jury's indictments, which were announced Thursday, shared similarities to the charges previously announced by Baltimore's State Attorney Marilyn Mosby. The most serious charge each officer ranged from second-degree "depraved heart" murder to assault.
"As is often the case, during an ongoing investigation, charges can and should be revised based upon the evidence," Mosby said.
However, Linderman reported that the officers' attorneys stated in court documents that Mosby should be replaced with an independent prosecutor because of personal and political conflicts of interest. Mosby's husband is a city councilman who represents the areas of Baltimore hit hardest by the social unrest in the aftermath of Gray's death.
"Gray's death became a symbol of what protesters say is a pattern of police brutality against African-Americans in Baltimore," Linderman wrote. "Following Gray's death, the Justice Department announced a civil rights investigation of the Baltimore Police Department to search for discriminatory policing practices and examine allegations that officers too often use excessive force and make unconstitutional searches and arrests."
Mosby noted that two of the officers, Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, were indicted on second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and for "failure to perform a duty regarding the safety of a prisoner." She also claimed the arrest of Gray was illegal.
"I'm very glad that the grand jury chose not to indict officer Nero on false imprisonment and one count of second-degree assault," defense attorney Marc Zayon, who represents Nero, said. "I'm quite confident he will be acquitted of the remaining charges at trial."
Linderman elaborated on the indictments faced by the remaining officers involved.
"Caesar Goodson, who drove the van, faces manslaughter and a second-degree 'depraved heart' murder charge, as well as misconduct in office and second-degree assault," Linderman wrote. "Sgt. Alicia White, Lt. Brian Rice and Officer William Porter are each charged with manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office. Those officers also face reckless-endangerment charges."
According to Scott Calvert of the Wall Street Journal, arraignments for the officers have been scheduled for July 2. Steven H. Levin, a Baltimore defense attorney not connected to the case, analyzed the case made by Mosby against them.
"Now it's going to be a legal argument-whether stopping him and putting him in a prone position amounted to reckless endangerment," Levin said. "Given that they were law enforcement officers acting in the performance of their duties, this charge, like the one she abandoned, may also be difficult to prove."
Legal experts told the Wall Street Journal that police officers are rarely charged with illegal arrest. However, some claimed that the false-imprisonment charges would serve as a reminder to police across the United States to find probable cause first before making any arrests.
"When she announced charges May 1, Ms. Mosby said officers lacked probable cause and that the knife was legal for Mr. Gray to possess," Calvert wrote. "Defense lawyers for the officers said the knife was illegal and the arrest was legal."