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Justice Department Will Not Charge Police Officers Involved In Freddie Gray’s Death

Julia Craven

WASHINGTON ― The Justice Department will not press federal charges against the six police officers involved in the 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray, The Baltimore Sun reported on Tuesday. Billy Murphy, the attorney representing Gray’s family, later confirmed the news to The Associated Press.

Gray was arrested by Baltimore police on April 12, 2015, following a short foot chase. He suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in custody and eventually died on April 19.

His death triggered citywide protests against police brutality. After Gray’s funeral on April 27, the unrest escalated and residents looted stores, set fires and threw rocks at police lines. Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Justice Department would be launching a federal civil rights investigation into his death.

Clouds of smoke and crowd control agents rise around a protester shortly after the deadline for a city-wide curfew passed in Baltimore in April 2015. (ERIC THAYER / Reuters)

In May of that year, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed a range of criminal charges against the six officers involved in Gray’s death.

Three of them ― Caesar Goodson, Edward Nero and Brian Rice ― opted for bench trials and were cleared of all charges by a judge. Mosby then dropped the charges against the remaining three: Garrett Miller, Alicia White and William Porter, whose initial trial had ended with a hung jury.  

Five of the officers still face internal disciplinary trials, which are scheduled to begin on Oct. 30.

Goodson, Rice and White could be fired, according to The Baltimore Sun. Nero and Miller could be suspended for five days without pay. Porter does not face internal discipline. 

In January of this year, the city of Baltimore and the Justice Department struck a deal requiring the Baltimore Police Department to implement a more transparent disciplinary system and to prohibit officers from stopping city residents without reasonable suspicion.

The 242-page consent decree, which was approved by a federal judge in April despite objections from the Trump Justice Department, came after a 15-month-long investigation. The probe found that Baltimore police officers routinely used excessive force against black citizens, retaliated against residents for exercising their First Amendment rights, did not hold fellow officers accountable for misconduct and committed other civil rights abuses.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is highly skeptical of such pattern-or-practice investigations and consent decrees like the one reached with Baltimore, leaving uncertain the chances of any future federal involvement in police reform.

The Justice Department declined a HuffPost request for comment about the decision not to file federal charges against the six officers.

“It’s not surprising. Police officers still continue to get a free pass to killing black people, and it’s especially not surprising under this [presidential] administration,” Kwame Rose, an activist in the city, told HuffPost. “Now it’s just becoming more and more apparent that … the issue of policing has to change from outside the system, as opposed to believing that the system is gonna change it.”

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  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.