Trial For Freddie Gray's Death Will Be The Next Step If Baltimore Cops Plead "Not Guilty"
In a startlingly quick decision, Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announced in a news conference Friday that the state's attorney's office had filed criminal charges against the six police officers involved in Freddie Gray's arrest and subsequent death. The death was ruled a homicide, and the officers were charged with varying degrees of crimes from second-degree manslaughter to misconduct. Now, the pressing question is "What comes next?" Warrants were issued Friday for the officers' arrest, and if they plead "not guilty" at their arraignment, the Baltimore police officers will go to trial fairly soon.
Officer Caesar Goodson, Jr., 45, who was driving the police van holding Gray, was given the most severe charges. According to NPR, Goodson was charged with second-degree depraved heart murder, along with five other charges of manslaughter, assault, and misconduct. Four other officers are facing manslaughter charges and the sixth was charged with second-degree assault, misconduct, and false imprisonment.
Mosby detailed the officers' wrongdoings in the news conference, saying that they ignored Gray's pleas for help, didn't secure him with a seatbelt in the police van, and didn't even have a legal right to arrest him in the first place. The knife Gray was arrested for carrying was not a switchblade, making it legal to carry in Baltimore. After reading the charges at the conference, Mosby said:
While I am committed to transparency, what I have revealed here today is now a matter of public record. However, the evidence that we have collected and continue to collect cannot ethically be released to the public.
The police union called for Mosby to appoint an independent prosecutor to the case, but Mosby responded by saying, "The people of Baltimore City elected me and there is no accountability with a special prosecutor." She did not comment on whether any of the officers had been arrested yet. "We're not sure what time they are coming in," Gerard Shields, a spokesman for the department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, told The Baltimore Sun. "They will go through the process like anyone else." Once arrested, they will be processed and have their bail set at the Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center in downtown Baltimore. According to The Sun, if they aren't released or can't post bail, the officers will go before a judge in District Court the next day.
It's not yet known when the six officers will go to trial for the various charges filed against them. If they plead "not guilty" at their arraignment, the time limit for a speedy trial will begin and the criminal case must be tried within six months.