Inside the gates of Baltimore's jail, suspects who face charges for murder, manslaughter and other violent crimes typically are escorted from police vehicles in handcuffs. But when three of the city officers charged in Freddie Gray's death arrived, they were not restrained — and one was greeted with a hug.
Caesar R. Goodson Jr., William G. Porter and Edward M. Nero, three of the six officers who surrendered May 1 to face charges in Gray's death, climbed out of a black police van without handcuffs. As Goodson, who faced a charge of second-degree murder, left the van inside Central Booking, he briefly hugged another man while Porter and Nero stood to the side, a Baltimore Sun video shows.
Since that day, The Sun has asked the Police Department for details about the officers' arrests and whether it is standard procedure for suspects to enter the booking facility without being handcuffed.
"While an individual turning himself in is not a regular occurrence, it is not unusual when an agreement is made between attorneys, the office of the state's attorney and the department for individuals to turn themselves in to a predetermined location where they will then be taken into custody," Lt. Sarah Connolly, a spokeswoman, said Wednesday.
She confirmed the identities of the three officers shown in the video but would not say where they got into the van or how often suspects who face such charges are taken into custody without handcuffs.
"Members of the department had facilitated those officers who were turning themselves in to that location, at that point of time they were taken into custody," Connolly said.
It was unclear how the other three officers charged in the Gray case — Lt. Brian W. Rice, Sgt. Alicia D. White and Garrett E. Miller — were processed at Central Booking.
The six officers, who are free on bail, face charges ranging from reckless endangerment to second-degree murder.
Dayvon Love, one of the activists who recently met with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to discuss policing in the city, said the officers received special treatment — something not available to people arrested in the riots after Gray's death.
"It further illustrates why there is such a level of distrust with law enforcement here," Love said. "It shows the power of the Fraternal Order of Police and the Police Department. There is no other explanation that would make sense."
Attorneys for Goodson, Porter and Nero either declined to comment or did not respond to a request for comment.
Doug Ward, director of the Johns Hopkins University's Division of Public Safety Leadership, said policies allow officers to exercise discretion when using handcuffs on suspects.
"I understand the other side of this," said Ward, a former state trooper. "It's a touchy situation."
Ward said handcuffs are used to prevent suspects from fleeing and from injuring themselves and officers. The three officers shown on the video without handcuffs are "different in some respects" than suspects arrested on the streets, he said.
"They were not going to run or resist," he said. "They were cooperating."