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Remaining Charges Against Officers In Freddie Gray's Death Dropped


Prosecutors in Baltimore made a surprise move today. They dropped all charges against three police officers who still face trial in the death of Freddie Gray. The young black man suffered a fatal injury in the back of a police van last year. His funeral touched off the city's worst violence in decades. After four trials, starting last November, prosecutors have been unable to win any convictions. Well, now State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby is accusing police of undermining the case. NPR's Jennifer Ludden has the latest.

JENNIFER LUDDEN, BYLINE: After obeying a gag order for months, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby finally spoke out. And she was just as feisty and controversial as when she announced criminal charges against six officers last year. She held a news conference at the West Baltimore spot where Freddie Gray was arrested. She was surrounded by cheering residents. Mosby said over the past year, she's been physically and professionally threatened, mocked, harassed, even sued over this case, but that will not deter her.


MARILYN MOSBY: I refuse to allow the grandstanding of some and the hyperbole of others to diminish our resolve to seek justice on behalf of this young man. I was elected the prosecutor. I signed up for this, and I can take it.

LUDDEN: Mosby said she still believes the officers' actions amount to a crime, but respects the fact that after three acquittals, the judge clearly disagrees. Then, in a stunning move, she accused certain police officers of sabotaging the case. She said police investigators failed to ask key questions, and some were actually witnesses, as well.

MOSBY: There was a reluctance and an obvious bias that was consistently exemplified not by the entire Baltimore Police Department, but by individuals within the Baltimore Police Department at every stage of the investigation, which became blatantly apparent in the subsequent trials.


GENE RYAN: The comments made today about our officers were outrageous and uncalled for and simply not true.

LUDDEN: Gene Ryan heads the local Fraternal Order of Police Union. He said police thoroughly investigated Gray's death and found it was an accident.

RYAN: But the state's attorney could not - simply could not accept the evidence that was presented. She had her own agenda.

LUDDEN: Police Commissioner Kevin Davis issued a far more conciliatory statement. He said dropping the charges is a thoughtful decision that will help move our city forward. In Freddie Gray's neighborhood, some say they're disappointed, though not surprised. Many are deeply skeptical of the justice system. Musician John Small (ph) says he'd still like a federal investigation.

JOHN SMALL: The police guard is to serve and protect, not to break a person's neck. If they was going to arrest Freddie, that's what they should have did. They should've arrest Freddie. They shouldn't have killed Freddie.

LUDDEN: Freddie Gray's father, Richard Shipley, says he's upset at the acquittals, but supports the state's attorney.


LUDDEN: We stand behind Marilyn and her prosecuting team.



RICHARD SHIPLEY: And my family's proud to have them represent us.

LUDDEN: David Jaros is with the University of Baltimore Law School. He says even without convictions, these trials have had some benefit. For one thing, the city's police officers in vans will now have cameras.

DAVID JAROS: But even more so, I think we've uncovered what is a poorly kept secret about policing in Baltimore and, frankly, about how the prosecution's office works, too. That suggests that there is a need for further reform of our criminal justice system.

LUDDEN: The officers are now undergoing administrative review. They could still face internal discipline for failing to seatbelt Freddie Gray during his van ride. The police union says four of the officers are already back at work. It expects the other two to return shortly. Jennifer Ludden, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jennifer Ludden helps edit energy and environment stories for NPR's National Desk, working with NPR staffers and a team of public radio reporters across the country. They track the shift to clean energy, state and federal policy moves, and how people and communities are coping with the mounting impacts of climate change.
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