Washington (AFP) — Prosecutors in Baltimore on Friday charged six officers with multiple counts including second-degree murder and manslaughter in connection with the death of a 25-year-old African American man in police custody.
State prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said warrants have been issued for the arrest of the Baltimore Police Department officers over the death of Freddie Gray, which sparked days of protests and rioting in the US East Coast port city.
“The findings of our comprehensive, thorough and independent investigation, coupled with the medical examiner’s determination that Mr. Gray’s death was a homicide, which we received today, has led us to believe that we have probable cause to file criminal charges,” Mosby told a press conference.
Cheers broke out when Mosby announced the charges on the steps of Baltimore’s war memorial, across the street from city hall — a focal point of protests demanding justice over Gray’s death.
Gray, who had a record of non-violent drug offenses, died April 19 from spinal injuries sustained when he was arrested a week earlier in a west Baltimore public housing estate.
Facing the most serious charges of second-degree murder is Officer Caesar Goodson, the driver of the van that transported Gray to a police station.
Goodson, 45, was also charged with assault, manslaughter and misconduct.
Three other officers were charged with manslaughter, and two more charged with assault and misconduct.
Mosby said officers had “illegally arrested” Gray as “no crime had been committed.”
She urged protesters to keep the peace in the wake of the charges, and reiterated that the investigation was ongoing.
Gray has become the latest face of an ongoing national debate over whether American police are too quick to use violence against blacks, especially young men.
This post has been updated.