ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Scènes de joie à Baltimore après l’inculpation de six policiers
by Eugénie Barbezat with Agence France Presse
Translated Wednesday 13 May 2015, by
In the course of the enquiry into the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black who died from injuries suffered after his arrest, six Baltimore police officers were indicted – one for murder – on May 1.
On May 1, Marilyn Mosby, the city’s chief prosecutor, announced that the young man was indeed a victim of homicide. Gray died on April 19, a week after his arrest, of serious neck injuries incurred after his hands had been handcuffed behind his back in a police paddy wagon.
The six police officers – three Whites and three Blacks to judge from their photos – were arrested. They had already been suspended. A little later, all paid bail and were liberated.
Their trade union has come to their defense. “We’re disappointed at the rush to judge, given that the enquiry isn’t over,” Gene Ryan, the president of the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, stated.
The murder indictment was brought against Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the black policeman who drove the paddy wagon. He’s also charged with involuntary manslaughter, as are three of his colleagues. They are also charged with second degree assault, misconduct and unlawful arrest, the chief prosecutor said during a press conference.
The medical examiner who investigated the case concluded there was homicide and that the injuries to Gray’s backbone were due to falls which Gray, who was not wearing a seatbelt, could not avoid during the trip in the police paddy wagon due to the handcuffs and leg clamps, Mosby said, emphasizing that the police offers had responded with “cruel indifference” to his requests for medical assistance, which he made at least twice.
Freddie Gray had ceased breathing when he was taken out of the paddy wagon, Marilyn Mosby added, whose family includes many police officers. The crowd that had assembled to listen to her applauded at the end of her speech.
Freddie Gray’s death was the cause of riots on April 27, following which a curfew was imposed.
His death comes on top of a series of cases that question the attitude of the police with regard to Afro-Americans and other minorities in the United States.
Several demonstrations have taken place in several of the nation’s big cities these past few days, as occurred last year following the deaths of black men killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in New York, and elsewhere.
“To the people of Baltimore and the demonstrators across America: I heard your call for ‘No justice, no peace.’ Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man,” stated chief prosecutor Mosby, a 35-year-old Afro-American woman who took office in January.
She moreover rejected the request for a special prosecutor to be designated, which was made by the indicted police officers’ trade union. The union, which disputes the indictments, moreover states that they were just doing their duty.
Their indictment and the diligence of the chief prosecutor, who announced the indictment the day after the police report was submitted, caused surprise in Baltimore.
Cries of joy and concerts of car horns sounded in the western neighborhood where the riots broke out on the evening of April 27.
“I’m proud of Baltimore,” a 48-year-old resident stated as he waved a big American flag. “I feel so happy, happy that the affair has not been swept under the rug and that someone was able to do something.”
In the western part of Baltimore, where Freddie Gray was arrested on April 12, a jubilatory crowd chanted the dead man’s first name.
“We got what we wanted,” a 25-year-old youth stated amid a crowd of several thousand people celebrating the news.
In Ferguson as in New York, not one of the police officers involved in last year’s affairs was indicted.
Barack Obama, who ordinarily abstains from commenting on on-going judicial cases, said on May 1 that it is “absolutely vital that the truth comes out on what happened to Mr. Freddie Gray.”
“What I think people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth. That’s what people around the country expect, Obama stated.
Richard Shipley, Freddie Gray’s stepfather, said he was satisfied with the indictment of the six police officers and issued an appeal for calm.
In New Orleans, 200 demonstrators converged on May 1 in front of the federal courthouse, waving signs with the names of 64 inhabitants, mostly Blacks, who according to them had been killed by the police since the 1970s.
In New York, a crowd of demonstrators bore banners in memory of Freddie Gray during a May Day march.