Justice investigation, police administrative review of Freddie Gray's arrest and death both remain open two years later

Two years after Freddie Gray died from injuries suffered in Baltimore police custody, two investigations into the circumstances surrounding his arrest remain open, according to the local and federal law enforcement agencies conducting them.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced it would conduct an independent civil rights investigation into Gray's death on April 21, 2015, just two days after his death and amid growing protests. Ian Prior, a department spokesman, said there are no updates on the status of that investigation.

The Montgomery County Police Department is leading a separate, administrative review of the actions of the Baltimore police officers involved in Gray's arrest. The Howard County Police Department is assisting in that review.

Capt. Paul Starks, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Police, said the case remains open with the department's Internal Affairs Division.

Gray, 25, was chased by bike officers in West Baltimore after they said he fled unprovoked in a high-crime area. The officers said they found a knife on Gray and arrested him, placing him in the back of a police transport van. After a 45-minute trip through the city with multiple stops, including one to pick up another detainee, Gray was discovered unconscious in the back of the van at the Western District police station.

Gray's death spurred widespread protests in the city. On the day of his funeral, rioting broke out.

Many of the circumstances surrounding his arrest, his response to his arrest, his treatment by six officers involved and his transport have been disputed, including during four separate criminal trials of the officers — none of which resulted in a conviction.

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby filed criminal charges against six officers involved in Gray's arrest. The first officer's trial ended in a hung jury and mistrial. Three officers were then acquitted by a judge. Mosby then dropped all the remaining charges.

The Justice Department investigation into Gray's death is distinct from its sweeping investigation of the Baltimore Police Department, which launched after the rioting and concluded last summer when the Justice Department — then under the Obama administration — issued a scathing report that found widespread discriminatory and unconstitutional policing in the city.

That investigation led to the recent approval of a consent decree between Baltimore and the Justice Department in U.S. District Court that will mandate sweeping reforms within the department. The deal, signed under the Obama administration, was approved by the court despite the Trump administration expressing "grave concerns" that the deal will make the city less safe. The city and the police department support the reform agreement.

Many legal observers predict the Justice Department investigation will conclude without federal charges being filed, as there is a higher bar for bringing charges in federal civil rights cases than in local criminal cases. Federal prosecutors have declined to comment on the investigation.

Whether the six officers involved will face administrative discipline under the review being conducted by Montgomery County is less clear.

The officers — Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officers Caesar Goodson Jr., Garrett Miller, Edward Nero and William Porter — all remain on administrative duty with pay pending the results of the review, said T.J. Smith, a Baltimore police spokesman.

krector@baltsun.com

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