Judge Barry G. Williams ruled that the cases of the six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man that died from an injury he sustained while in police custody in April of 2015, will remain in Baltimore. Williams also denied the request that the cases be moved. The decision came out Thursday, Sept. 10th following the city of Baltimore’s decision to pay the Gray family a settlement of $6.4 million.
Shackled and restrained in the police vehicle, Freddie Gray received a spinal injury, which rendered him comatose and eventually led to his death. According to NPR, the six officers, three black and three white, have charges brought against them ranging from assault, misconduct in the office, second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter.
While the police officers maintain their innocence with a plea of not guilty, the prosecution will argue that excessive force and a lack of medical attention from the police caused Gray’s death. Ivan Bates, attorney for all of the officers involved, stated that the prosecution created a very inaccurate description of what happened to Gray, according to The Washington Post. The hunt for truth and justice is on, but muddled, complicated and riddled with media manipulation, racial tensions, political resources and a national question over the powers of the police.
The case has attracted nationwide attention and coverage for numerous reasons. Because of the ongoing race-related tensions in America, Gray’s death and subsequent trials have been the catalyst for rallies, riots, violence, arrests and national debates over police force and brutality. The spotlight on Baltimore has not only shed light on Gray’s death and the circumstances around it, but also on the Black Lives Matter movement. The social movement resembles those of the 1960’s during the many civil rights movements. This movement and its hashtag on various social media outlets raised support and awareness for Gray and black brutality victims. Sweeping across the nation, this movement has gained support and highlighted many issues in America’s police and legal systems. Many are questioning why the public seems to be afraid of the institution that’s intended purpose and design is to protect the public, not harm it.
Support for Freddie Gray and a call for reform has come from not just friends, family and citizens of Baltimore, but from people all over the country as well as public figures. President Obama, the major league baseball team The Baltimore Orioles, presidential candidates and other politically influential people, as well as celebrities have come out in support for justice for Freddie Gray.
While some claim the city’s settlement toward the Gray family and trials for the six police officers are the beginning to finding justice for Gray and the nation, some claim the police officers were just doing their job while others say it is not enough justice. According to BBC News, the Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie-Rawlings Blake said, “The settlement would resolve all civil claims related to the City of Baltimore, the Baltimore Police Department, individual Baltimore Police offers and any other persons or institutions who might be deemed responsible for the death of Mr. Gray.”
However, it does not resolve any legal matters. While some see the settlement as a sign that all six officers are guilty before the trials have even begun, others, including the Mayor, see it as a deserved retribution for the Gray family and their loss.
Editor’s Note: Information from The Washington Post, BBC and NPR was used in this report.