Two years after the fatal police incident involving Freddie Gray, five Baltimore cops have been internally charged with violating department policy. Three of them face termination.
The disciplinary measures come on the heels of a review conducted by the Montgomery and Howard county police departments that was completed earlier this month.
The two cops who made the initial arrest of Gray; Edward Nero and Garrett Miller face five day suspensions. The driver of the police van in which Gray reportedly sustained his injuries, officer Caesar Goodson Jr., could be fired.
Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White could also be removed from the Baltimore police department for their involvement in Gray’s arrest. Officer William Porter, who was criminally charged along with the other five cops in the case, is not currently facing any disciplinary action.
Four of the officers had attempted to stop Gray at about 9 a.m. on April 12, 2015 in the 1600 block of North Ave in West Baltimore. Gray reportedly ran before the cops caught up to him and arrested him under “suspicions” of criminal activity.
The incident was partially caught on video. The footage captured by bystanders showed multiple officers detaining, and dragging Gray to the police van as he moaned in pain.
“Yall always gotta be violating,” a woman said in one recording. “His leg looks broke, look at his fucking leg!”
In that same video another bystander approached police and echoed the woman’s sentiment as the officers dragged Gray away. By all accounts, it appeared Gray had been severely beaten by the cops.
An autopsy ruled however that Gray died due to a “high-energy injury” to his back and spine sustained while riding in the back of the police van without being properly strapped in.
Gray’s death set off weeks of protests and riots that prompted Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to declare a curfew for the city. Additionally, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency, suspended habeus corpus, and deployed the National Guard.
On May 21, 2015, all six officers were indicted by a grand jury for a range of charges including depraved heart murder, manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. All of the cops faced decades in prison if convicted and pleaded not guilty.
In December 2015, officer Porter began a trial that ultimately ended in a hung jury, resulting in a mistrial. Nero, Rice and Goodson were all acquitted in bench trials during 2016 and prosecutors subsequently dropped the criminal case against Miller.
The internal disciplinary measures taken against Nero, Miller, Goodson, Rice and White were revealed to the cops on Friday. According to Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police attorney Michael E. Davey, who failed to elaborate on particulars, the officers were charged with “violations of policy and procedure.”
All of the cops can contest their charges before an internal disciplinary panel that has the power to acquit them. Even if the charges are upheld however, Baltimore police commissioner Kevin Davis would make the final decision regarding punishment.
“The commissioner has a lot of authority,” Baltimore lawyer Karen Kruger said. “He also has a lot of responsibility, and has to answer to the citizens.”