Roughly one month after Freddie Gray’s death sparked outrage across the nation and added more fuel to the ongoing frustrations of the Black community, a grand jury has decided to indict all six of the officers involved in Gray’s arrest and transport on homicide and assault charges.
Baltimore’s chief prosecutor, Marilyn J. Mosby, made the announcement on Thursday and revealed that the charges would largely remain the same as the ones she initially filed.
The only notable difference in the charges comes in the absence of false imprisonment charges against the officers—a charge that some legal experts said would be crucial to getting a conviction against some of the officers.
It isn’t clear why the false imprisonment charges were not included in the indictment but debates had previously sparked regarding whether or not the knife in Gray’s pocket was truly illegal or not.
The indictment, of course, is no promise that Gray’s family nor the rest of the Black community will see justice served in the 25-year-old’s death but it certainly puts them much closer to their goal than other families of unarmed Black citizens have gotten in the past.
Grand juries failed to even bring charges against officers like Darren Wilson after he fatally shot unarmed Ferguson teen Michael Brown or New York police officer Daniel Pantaleo after his department-banned chokehold maneuver took Eric Garner’s life.
In Gray’s case, it was a string of blatant neglect and disregard for the young man’s life that captured the nation’s attention.
Gray received fatal injuries during his arrest, which was captured on film by a friend. The bystander described police as folding Gray like “origami” before putting him in the back of the transport unit.
What happened in the back of the van is still a mystery as no cameras were in the back of the vehicle, but officials said that the officers ignored Gray’s calls for medical assistance and neglected to securely strap him in with a seat belt—a safety step that is required by the Baltimore police department.
Once the investigation kicked off, it seemed like dishonest accounts of the arrest plagued the initial story. Officers insisted Gray was not cooperating and got so uncontrollable that it was impossible for them to put his seatbelt on.
Video of the arrest conflicted those claims and officers later admitted that there was no significant struggle during the arrest.
Another video that surfaced also revealed that Gray’s body appeared limp and weak when officers stopped to add leg restraints during his transport, despite the aforementioned claims about how uncontrollable they insisted Gray was.
Then there was the reveal of an unidentified fourth stop made by the police transport van that was not included in any of the reports or initially disclosed to investigators.
All this came around the same time that medical experts slammed accusations that Gray could have hurt himself in the back of the van. According to experts, what truly would have been nearly impossible is for a young man in handcuffs and leg restraints to drastically sever his own spine.
It was all enough to stick the officers with some rather serious charges. Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the van’s driver is facing the most serious charge of second degree “depraved heart” murder, which could land him behind bars for up to 30 years.
All of the officers, including Officer Edward M. Nero and Officer Garret E. Miller, will also still face second-degree assault charges, which carry a punishment of up to 10 years.
Other charges faced by the officers include reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
Mosby took no questions regarding the charges even after she made the announcement but the indictments certainly prove that she is pushing to live up to her promise to the young people of Baltimore.
When she addressed the rioters and protesters that filled the streets of Baltimore following Gray’s funeral, Mosby asked the community to remain peaceful as she worked to “deliver justice on the behalf of this young man.”
She then addressed the young community leading the Black Lives Matter movement.
“To the youth of [Baltimore]: I will seek justice on your behalf,” she added. “This is a moment. This is your moment.”