Baltimore's police union denounced administrative charges being brought against five of the six officers involved in the 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray, saying the cases will "do nothing more than perpetuate a police force hesitant to exercise judgment when interacting with the public."
Lt. Gene Ryan, the union's president, spoke out for the first time since the officers were informed of the charges, releasing a statement Tuesday afternoon that maintained the officers did nothing wrong.
The Baltimore Sun reported Monday that five officers had been informed Friday they were facing internal discipline as a result of a review conducted by investigators from Montgomery and Howard counties. Three of the officers — Lt. Brian Rice, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer Caesar Goodson — face possible firing.
Two other officers, Garrett Miller and Edward Nero, face five days' suspension and loss of pay, the sources said.
Officer William Porter, who was also involved in the Gray case, is not facing any internal discipline.
"The allegations against the six police officers have been thoroughly litigated time and time again," Ryan said in a statement. "All of the evidence has been presented to multiple fact-finders who have decided that these officers did nothing wrong."
A jury deadlocked on criminal charges against Porter, while Circuit Judge Barry Williams acquitted Rice, Goodson and Nero in bench trials. Prosecutors then decided to drop the remaining cases.
The internal disciplinary review looks at the case from a different standard — whether the officers broke Police Department rules — and the county investigators sustained charges.
The officers can accept the recommended punishment or contest the charges in front of a panel of police officers.
"The administrative charges are nothing more than that — they are charges," Ryan's statement continued. "We have no reason to believe that the results of a fair trial board will be any different than the result of all 27 of the criminal counts which uniformly rejected any wrongdoing on the part of the officers."
Ryan's statement continued by saying that Baltimoreans "should be outraged at their leaders."
"Crime is at an all-time high, while arrests and convictions are at an all-time low," Ryan said. "The only losers in the decision to continue persecuting these five officers are the citizens of Baltimore City."
By policy, the officers have 10 days after receiving evidence in their cases to choose to contest the charges at a trial board. On Monday, union attorney Michael Davey said he had not received discovery in the case.
If the trial board rejects the administrative findings, the officers would be cleared. If the panel upholds the charges, it can recommend punishment. Police Commissioner Kevin Davis can impose that recommendation, lessen it or increase it.