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NAACP applauds indictments in Freddie Gray case

By Hazel Trice Edney
On June 8, 2015

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Following major protests after grand juries refused to indict police officers who killed unarmed Eric Garner in New York and Ferguson, Missouri’s Michael Brown, the NAACP is applauding the grand jury indictments of six Baltimore police officers in the death of Freddie Gray.

“The grand jury’s decision to indict the six officers involved in the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray is emblematic of the type of action we need to see in cases where unarmed citizens are met with excessive and oftentimes fatal force,” said NAACP President/CEO Cornell William Brooks in a statement. “While this indictment is encouraging, it is only a first step in what will likely be a long judicial process and the NAACP will be closely monitoring the proceedings as we continue to seek justice for Freddie Gray and his family.”

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced the indictments May 21. The grand jury indictments are slightly different than the original charges announced May 1. Mosby said in a press conference that charges were altered based on the discovery of “additional information.” However, the indictments still serve to underscore the continuation of justice that she promised when first announcing that the police officers had been arrested and charged.

The most significant change was the drop of the charge of false imprisonment. A debate over the legality of a knife Gray was carrying appeared to make the legality of the arrest debatable. Police chased Gray after he ran from them after looking their way. The knife, the only charge that police mentioned against Gray, was discovered during the arrest. Gray died a week later from a severed spine now believed to have occurred either during the arrest or in the police paddy wagon where he lay handcuffed, but not secured. Some of the charges are also related to the officers’ refusal to seek medical help for Gray as he obviously suffered and pleaded for help. Mosby apparently decided a false imprisonment charge was not needed in order to prove charges related to Gray’s death.

All six officers, three Black and three White, are set for arraignment July 2. According to Mosby’s office, the charges and maximum sentences are as follows:

Officer Caesar R. Goodson, Jr. (Black):
Second degree depraved heart murder (30 years); involuntary manslaughter (10 years); second degree assault, (10 years); manslaughter by vehicle (gross negligence) (10 years); manslaughter by vehicle (criminal negligence) (three years); misconduct in office (departmental discipline); reckless endangerment (five years);

Officer William G. Porter (Black): 
Involuntary manslaughter (10 years); second degree assault (10 years); misconduct in office (departmental discipline); reckless endangerment (five years);

Lt. Brian W. Rice (White):
Manslaughter (involuntary) (10 years); second degree assault (10 years); two charges of misconduct in office (departmental discipline); reckless endangerment (five years);

Officer Edward M. Nero (White): 
Second degree assault (10 years); two charges of misconduct in office (departmental discipline); Reckless endangerment (five years);

Officer Garrett E. Miller (White): 
Second degree assault (10 years); two charges of misconduct in officer (departmental discipline); Reckless endangerment (five years);

Sgt. Alicia D. White (Black):
Involuntary manslaughter (10 years); second degree assault (10 years); misconduct in office (departmental discipline); reckless endangerment (five years).

The charges and indictments drew additional relief from civil rights leaders, protestors and citizens in general. Before charges were announced May 1, uprisings led to the burning and destruction of property that officials say could take up to $23 million to replace.

“We commend the leadership of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby as well as the grand jury’s careful deliberation and determination in holding these six officers accountable for the death of Freddie Gray,” said Brooks. “We look forward to the cessation nationwide of police misconduct and to the swift passage of the End Racial Profiling Act.”

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