Five members of the Baltimore Police Department who were charged and later acquitted in the 2015 death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray are now facing internal police charges, with three of them potentially staring down termination.
According to the Sun’s Justin Fenton, Officer Caesar Goodson, Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White could be fired from their jobs. Goodson was driving the transport van in which Gray sustained his fatal neck injuries on April 12, 2015.
Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller face five days of suspension without pay, while Officer William Porter isn’t being charged internally, according to Fenton, who cited “sources with knowledge of the case.”
Porter was the first of the six officers charged in Gray’s death to be tried in court. After his first trial ended in a hung jury and was rescheduled, three others – Nero, Rice and Goodson were acquitted by Circuit Judge Barry Williams in consecutive trials. The state then dropped the three remaining cases.
However, even with no criminal charges left last summer, internal punishment was still a possibility, depending on the outcome of an independent investigation conducted by the Montgomery and Howard County police departments.
On May 12, Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith announced that the findings from the independent investigation had come in after nearly a year, but the department declined to release them.
“The BPD is currently reviewing the case. The results of this investigation are personnel records. With any information disseminated it must be in accordance of the law,” Smith said in a release, adding, “Police Commissioner Davis offers his sincere thanks to both the MCPD and HCPD for their time, effort, willingness, and dedication to completely this investigation.”
A spokesperson for the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing city police officers, hasn’t responded to a request for comment on the specific nature of the internal charges. Attorney Michael E. Davey, who represents FOP Lodge 3 members in internal affairs cases, told the Sun the officers are charged with “violations of policy and procedure.”
Gray’s death in April 2015 incited an uprising that has had lasting social and criminal justice effects — both good and bad — in the city in the two years since. Police are currently implementing reforms under a federally enforced consent decree, which was devised to fix major problems like discriminatory policing strategies and excessive use of force in the BPD, as identified by the U.S. Department in an investigative report published in August 2016.
Officers involved in the deaths of unarmed black males in other cities have faced similar outcomes. In New York, a city police sergeant who played a role in Eric Garner’s choking death was charged internally and placed on modified duty. In Cleveland, three officers involved in the 2014 shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice currently face suspensions or termination under internal charges filed this past January.
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