ASSOCIATED PRESS — Prosecutors dropped the remaining charges Wednesday against three Baltimore police officers awaiting trial in the death of Freddie Gray, bringing an end to the case without a conviction.
Gray was a 25-year-old black man whose neck was broken while he was handcuffed and shackled but left unrestrained in the back of a police van in April 2015. His death added fuel to the growing Black Lives Matter movement, set off massive protests in the city and led to the worst riots the city had seen in decades.
The decision by prosecutors comes after a judge had already acquitted three of the six officers charged in the case, including the van driver who the state considered the most responsible and another officer who was the highest-ranking of the group.
A fourth officer had his case heard by a jury, but the panel deadlocked and the judge declared a mistrial.
On Wednesday, instead of a pretrial hearing for Officer Garrett Miller — who had faced assault, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment charges — Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow told the judge that prosecutors were dropping the charges against Miller and the rest of the officers.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys quickly left the courtroom without commenting, but both sides planned news conferences later Wednesday.
After Gray’s death, the U.S. Justice Department launched a patterns and practice investigation into allegations of widespread abuse and unlawful arrests by the Baltimore Police Department. The results have not been released.
Prosecutors had said Gray was illegally arrested after he ran away from a bike patrol officer and the officers failed to buckle Gray into a seat belt or call a medic when he indicated he wanted to go to a hospital.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby wasted little time in announcing charges after Gray’s death — one day after receiving the police department’s investigation while a tense city was still under curfew — and she did not shy from the spotlight. She posed for magazine photos, sat for TV interviews and even appeared onstage at a Prince concert in Gray’s honor.
The city’s troubles forced Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to fire her reform-minded police chief and abandon her re-election campaign. Homicides skyrocketed at a rate unseen in decades.
Many feared that the acquittals could prompt more protests and unrest, but that never panned out.
The Gray case hasn’t fit quite so neatly into the narrative of white authorities imposing unfair justice on minorities.
Three of the officers charged are white and three are black. The victim, judge, top prosecutor and mayor are African-American. At the time of Gray’s death, so was the police chief.
No reputations hinged on the case’s outcome as much as Mosby and her husband, Nick Mosby, a councilman for Baltimore’s west side who announced his mayoral candidacy shortly after Rawlings-Blake pulled out.
Marilyn Mosby spoke so forcefully when she announced the charges against the officers in May that defense attorneys argued she should recuse herself for bias.
Gray’s family received a $6.4 million settlement from the city.