In a statement Tuesday evening, the Justice Department announced they wouldn’t be pursuing federal civil rights charges against any of the officers involved in the 2015 death of Freddie Gray, essentially ending the possibility of a criminal case against any of the six officers.
Gray’s death in police custody back in April of 2015 after his arrest in Baltimore led to riots over allegations of police brutality. The state pursued charges against six of the officers involved in the arrest, even after forensic evidence began to mount that Gray had broken his neck by deliberately injuring himself in the back of the police van.
Even though the state tried to prove that the officers had been deliberately indifferent to Gray’s injuries as opposed to inflicting them, that argument didn’t seem to work in court. After three of the officers were acquitted, prosecutors decided to drop the charges against the remaining officers in July of 2016. That meant for those who wanted to pillory the six officers involved in the case, federal civil rights charges were the only recourse left.
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Tuesday’s statement from President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice made it clear that wasn’t going to happen.
“After an extensive review of this tragic event, conducted by career prosecutors and investigators, the Justice Department concluded that the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Officer Caesar Goodson, Officer William Porter, Officer Garrett Miller, Officer Edward Nero, Lieutenant Brian Rice, or Sergeant Alicia White willfully violated Gray’s civil rights,” the DOJ concluded. “Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed without prosecution.”
The statement said that “the evidence gathered during this investigation is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officers violated Gray’s Fourth Amendment rights against false arrest and unreasonable force, or his Fourteenth Amendment right to be free from excessive force and deliberate indifference.”
“In analyzing a potential charge under section 242, the Department also considered whether the evidence was sufficient to prove the statutory element of willfulness,” it continued. “To establish that the officers acted willfully, the government would be required both to disprove the officers’ account of their interaction with Gray and to affirmatively establish that the officers instead acted, or failed to act, with the specific intent to violate Gray’s rights. At a minimum, this would require proof that the officers knew that they were treating Gray in a wrongful manner, yet chose to do so anyway.”
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However, the Department of Justice said that it “cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Gray had already suffered his neck injury by the time officers saw him” in pain, and that “(e)ven if Gray had already been injured, the evidence does not prove that the officers were aware of the serious nature of that injury.”
The DOJ’s statement ends a two-year liberal witch hunt that sought to paint these officers as modern day Stacy Koons and Laurence Powells for naked political gain. There has long been enough evidence to suggest that Freddie Gray was very much the author of his own demise and that the officers’ actions, while perhaps not entirely commendable, certainly weren’t criminal.
Will there be riots like the ones back in 2015? It’s hard to tell as of yet. No reports of unrest have been received as of yet. However, one thing’s for sure: Given the history of this case, one can only get ready for the worst.
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