The NAACP Legal Defense Fund said it was “deeply disappointed” by prosecutors’ decision to clear all remaining charges against the Baltimore police officers involved in the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.
Gray died in April 2015 after suffering a spinal injury while in police custody. The development comes during a time of tension between Black citizens and members of law enforcement.
“One thing is undisputed: When police placed Mr. Gray into the van he was conscious. When they removed Mr. Gray, he was unconscious and his spine was broken,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) in a statement sent to JET. “Without question, our hearts go out to the family of Freddie Gray and to all the innocent victims of police violence.”
A fourth officer had his case heard by a jury, who deadlocked and the judge declared a mistrial. Prosecutors had said Gray was illegally arrested after he ran away from a bike patrol officer and the officers failed to buckle Gray into a seat belt or call a medic when he indicated he wanted to go to a hospital.
Last week, LDF and a citywide coalition of advocates sent a letter to Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis urging them to reform the city’s new contract with the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police.
They called for civilians to be allowed to serve on BPD disciplinary hearing boards as intended by recent changes to Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights, according to the release.