Five Baltimore police officers involved in the 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray have been charged with violating department rules, with three of them facing termination, the Baltimore Sun has learned.
The three who face firing are Officer Caesar Goodson, who was driving the van in which an autopsy determined Gray suffered fatal injuries; and supervisors Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, according to sources with knowledge of the case.
Officers Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, who made the initial arrest of Gray, face five days suspension without pay.
Meanwhile, Officer William Porter, who was criminally charged with manslaughter, is not facing internal discipline.
The charges come after investigators from the Montgomery and Howard county police departments finished their review of the case his month. The Baltimore Police Department asked them to handle the investigation to avoid a conflict of interest.
All of the officers can accept that punishment or elect to contest the charges before a “trial board,” an internal disciplinary panel of police officers. The board has the power to acquit the officers or uphold the charges. If the charges are upheld, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis would have the final say on punishment.
A new state law makes trial boards open to the public, but keeps the outcomes secret.
Police spokesman T.J. Smith declined to comment Monday, saying the department is unable to discuss personnel matters.
Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby — who brought criminal charges against the officers but failed to win a conviction— issued a statement Monday saying that “justice is always worth the price paid for its pursuit.”
“This case has always been about providing justice for an innocent 25-year-old man who was unreasonably taken into police custody, severely injured while in police custody, and died due to a lack of care,” she said. “If today’s news is accurate, I am relieved to know that a majority of those involved will be held administratively accountable for their actions.”
The five officers were informed of the charges against them Friday, according to Michael E. Davey, an attorney who handles internal affairs cases for the police union, the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police. Davey represented all five officers during the internal review.
The specifics of the charges — and what actions, or failure to act, led to them — is not clear. Davey said the officers are charged with “violations of policy and procedure,” but declined to elaborate.
Gene Ryan, the police union president, did not return calls seeking comment. The charges are likely to upset manyofficers who felt their colleagues were vindicated when the criminal charges against them were not sustained.
The five officers facing internal discipline could not be reached for comment.
Attorney Joseph Murtha, who represented Porter in his criminal case and the administrative investigation, cheered the findings regarding his client and said it showed he was “a truth-teller” in his account of the events surrounding Gray’s death.
Murtha said Porter plans to stay with the department.
“His goal from the beginning was to continue to be a Baltimore police officer, and is relieved that he continues to have that opportunity available to him,” Murtha said.
Tessa Hill-Aston, president of Baltimore’s NAACP chapter, said she thinks that Nero and Miller should face stiffer punishment for putting the series of events into motion. The two arrested Gray after he ran from them near the Gilmor Homes public housing development in West Baltimore.
“Everyone got pulled into what they started,” Hill-Aston said.
But she said she was glad to see the internal discipline.
“They needed to be punished in some form or fashion, and the community will feel good that we got some satisfaction,” she said.
The internal charges extend the fallout from Gray’s death two years ago, which garnered national attention amid a string of high-profile police shootings across the country and sparked days of protests locally.
Gray, 25, was arrested on April 12, 2015 and died a week later of a severe spinal injury that an autopsy determined he suffered while riding in the back of a police transport van, where officers did not secure him with a seat belt.
Prosecutors then charged six officers with offenses ranging from misconduct to manslaughter and second-degree murder, in part for failing to secure Gray in a seat belt and seek medical care for him. All pleaded not guilty.
Porter went to trial first in December 2015 and the jury deadlocked, resulting in a mistrial.
Nero, Rice and Goodson were acquitted by a judge in bench trials last year, and prosecutors then decided to drop the remaining cases.
Defense attorneys argued that the allegations against the officers did not rise to criminal conduct. They said they could not find any examples of officers being criminally charged for failing to take action.