The six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray – who died after being injured in police custody – have been charged criminally, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced Friday.
Mosby's announcement on the steps of the War Memorial Building was greeted with cheers and applause. Mosby said she told Gray's family that "no one is above the law and I would pursue justice upon their behalf."
The city was gearing up for another round of demonstrations after the announcement. Baltimore City and Maryland state offices granted workers in the city liberal leave early Friday afternoon.
After the charges were announced, Desmond Taylor, 29, shouted in jubilee in front of the War Memorial Building.
"I did not expect this, but I prayed for it," he said. "This day means that your actions bring consequences in Baltimore City."
Reacting to news of the charges, President Barack Obama called it "absolutely vital that the truth come out."
"What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth," the president said. "That's what people around the country expect."
All six officers were in custody and being processed at Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center as of 2 p.m., said Gerard Shields, a spokesman for the department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., 45, who was the driver of a police van that carried Gray through the streets of Baltimore, was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, second-degree assault, two vehicular manslaughter charges and misconduct in office. A man who answered the phone at Goodson's home declined to comment and hung up the phone.
Officer William Porter, 25, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault and misconduct in office.
Gray, 25, was chased down and arrested by Baltimore officers on April 12 and died a week later.
In a detailed recounting of the events, Mosby described Gray being repeatedly denied medical attention by police officers, even as he asked for medical help and later was unresponsive in a police van. She also said his arrest was illegal, performed without probable cause. A knife found in his pocket was not an illegal switchblade, as police had previously reported, Mosby said.
Gray suffered a "severe and critical neck injury" as a result of being handcuffed, shackled and not seat-belted in the van, Mosby said.
Mosby said an investigation found officers placed Gray in wrist and ankle restraints and left him stomach-down on the floor of a police van as they drove around West Baltimore. On at least five occasions, officers placed Gray in the van or checked on him and failed to secure him, she said. By the time the van reached the Western District police station, he was not breathing and was in cardiac arrest, she said.
Mosby called the investigation, which she said began the day after Gray's arrest, "comprehensive, thorough and independent." She worked quickly in filing charges, which came the morning after Baltimore police handed over their investigation to her office. The police investigation was turned over a day earlier than promised.
"My team worked around the clock, 12- and 14-hour days," she said.
Police union defends, criticizes
Just before Mosby announced the criminal charges, the Baltimore police union defended the officers involved.
"Not one of the officers involved in this tragic situation left home in the morning with the anticipation that someone with whom they interacted would not go home that night," Gene Ryan, president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, wrote in a letter to Mosby. "As tragic as this situation is, none of the officers involved are responsible for the death of Mr. Gray."
The police union asked Mosby to appoint an independent prosecutor in the case, citing her ties to the Gray family's attorney, William Murphy, as well as her lead prosecutor's connections to members of the local media. Murphy donated $5,000 to Mosby's campaign and served on her transition committee.
"While I have the utmost respect for you and your office, I have very deep concerns about the many conflicts of interest presented by your office conducting an investigation in this case," Ryan wrote in his letter.
The police union letter also expresses concerns regarding Mosby's marriage to Baltimore City Councilman Nick Mosby.
"Most importantly, it is clear that your husband's political future will be directly impacted, for better or worse, by the outcome of your investigation," the letter states. "In order to avoid any appearance of impropriety or a violation of the Professional Rules of Professional Responsibility, I ask that you appoint a Special Prosecutor to determine whether or not any charges should be filed."
Mosby responded to that request by saying: "The people of Baltimore City elected me and there is no accountability with a special prosecutor."
"I will prosecute any case within my jurisdiction," she added.
More protests ahead
Mosby called on the public to remain calm.
"I heard your call for 'no justice, no peace,'" she said. "Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man."
Demonstrations were planned in Baltimore for Friday night and Saturday, well before Mosby made her announcement of criminal charges against the officers.
A group called the Bmore United Coalition planned to meet at the state's attorney's office at 3 p.m. and march to City Hall. The People's Power Assembly plans a protest at the Inner Harbor at 5 p.m.
In a press conference outside of City Hall shortly after the charges were announced, Malik Shabazz, national president of Black Lawyers for Justice, said he was going over to her office to congratulate her and would ask her to speak at the mass rally he has planned Saturday, the second organized by his organization.
"Under the pressure of the world, she has stood up and put the blame squarely where the blame belongs," Shabazz said. "The blame did not belong on Freddie Gray, the blame belongs on the Baltimore City Police Department."
Shabazz said that he believed the mass rally planned for Saturday would be peaceful. The group distributed new fliers advertising the rally on Friday that had a toned down message than the one distributed last week. Of note, the proclamation "Shut Em' Down" was removed from the flier, and a "Youth March" was added. In addition to the rally being against police brutality, the new flier also added "in support of the pain and suffering of Baltimore."
"We can have peace tomorrow because there's some justice as we await trial," he said. "We know that an arrest is just the beginning of it. So we don't want to go to sleep. We know we must stay vigilant, forceful and focused in the fight for justice."
Concern, celebration over charges
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she is "sickened and heartbroken" over the charges against the officers.
"No one in our city is above the law," she said. "Justice must apply to all of us equally."
Gov. Larry Hogan, who has been in Baltimore all week, said he had no immediate reaction to the officers being charged. He said his sole job is to keep the peace.
Hogan said he has faith in the justice system and his primary goal is to urge people to react peacefully.
Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen Holton called the announcement of charges "a defining moment for Baltimore. We should all be proud."
"This is a good day," she said. "I'm excited for my city. This speaks to decades of problems we have faced in this city and we're beginning a new chapter today into real justice. This will allow us to begin to address the systemic problems that make us a tale of two cities."
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said Mosby deserves to be congratulated but cautioned the criminal charges are only a start to a "lengthy process."
Shouts of "thank you" and "hallelujah" broke out among bystanders who pressed as close as they could to the media scrum around Mosby.
"I got hugged by someone I don't even know," said Kristyn Porter, 23, of East Baltimore.
Porter said she had business to attend to nearby, but when she heard the announcement would be made at War Memorial, she stopped to listen.
"I'm happy justice was served, and things can calm down now," Porter, who works in security, said. "The only other thing people are angry about is the curfew."
She and her friend, Raquel Burke, 23, said they hadn't been able to attend any of the marches so far.
"Now I want to go to this one," said Burke, eyeing a flyer for a rally at City Hall at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Reactions on the streets were a mix of celebration and lingering concern.
In West Baltimore, cars honked their horns. A man hanging out of a truck window pumped his fists and yelled; "Justice! Justice! Justice!"
At the corner where Gray was arrested, 53-year-old Willie Rooks held his hands up in peace signs and screamed, "Justice!"
In Gilmor Homes, the neighborhood where Gray was arrested, things were quiet, with a police helicopter circling overhead. At the intersection of North and Pennsylvania avenues, the scene of rioting Monday and demonstrations all week, traffic moved through with many motorists honking their horns.
Meech Tucker, 23, wearing a T-shirt that read, "I Bleed Baltimore," said: "If it was one of us doing that against a police officer, it would be first-degree murder."
Waiting to catch a bus near the Western District Police Station, Joann El-Amin said her husband called to give her the news about the officers being charged. "Everyone should be punished if they did something wrong," she said.
But she wasn't keen on the protests that turned violent.
"I just wish they'd stop this foolishness; the people tearing up their own neighborhoods. It makes no sense. I told my son, who works downtown, to go home and not get caught up in it. ...You don't know if the crowd is peaceful or full of foolish people. I didn't need to protest. I knew it would come out in the wash," she said.
Dwayne Wright, 44, said: "An indictment is not a conviction. They had to do something. I definitely feel leaders could have done it in other cases."
Michael Hall, 52, said he hoped the charges weren't filed just in an attempt to calm violence in the city.
"I hope she doesn't pin it on one of them when it's time for trial," he said. "Are they gonna stick by these charges?"
At Baltimore City College High School, seniors Desmond Campbell and Briana Carrington hugged as they watched in their classroom the announcement that officers would be charged in Gray's death.
"I was feeling very liberated and vindicated – it literally could have been me," Campbell said. "This is such a powerful movement."
Breaking News Alerts Newsletter
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our free breaking news email alerts.
The arrested officers will have their bail set by a court commissioner within 24 hours. If they are not released or cannot post bail, they will go before a judge in District Court the next business day.
If they are held, Shields wouldn't say where they would be placed in the jail, citing "security reasons."
More statements on the charges are expected over the course of the afternoon. Gray's family and their lawyer are scheduled to speak at 5 p.m.
Baltimore Sun reporters Yvonne Wenger, Meredith Cohn, Erica L. Green, Jessica Anderson, Kevin Rector, Erin Cox, Justin Fenton, Mark Puente, Doug Donovan, Liz Bowie, John Fritze, Jean Marbella and Alison Knezevich contributed to this report.