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Obama: 'Vital' to Seek Truth in Freddie Gray Death

  • VOA News

Dieu Cay of Vietnam listens at left as President Barack Obama answers a question about the situation in Baltimore during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, May 1, 2015.

Dieu Cay of Vietnam listens at left as President Barack Obama answers a question about the situation in Baltimore during a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, May 1, 2015.

Following the announcement of charges against six Baltimore police officers involved in the arrest of Freddie Gray, U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday "it is absolutely vital that the truth comes out" on what happened to the 25-year-old African-American man who died in police custody last month.

"What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth," said President Obama in remarks at the White House. "That's what people around the country expect."

Obama said it would not be appropriate for him to comment on the legal processes involved, but that he wants to make sure the legal system "runs the way it should," saying "justice needs to be served."

"Those individuals who are charged obviously are also entitled to due process and rule of law," said President Obama, adding that the Justice Department and new U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch are in communication with Baltimore officials to provide assistance if needed.

Earlier this week, President Obama condemned the violence that followed Gray's funeral Monday, but acknowledged what he described as a "slow-rolling crisis" in community policing.

"We have seen too many instances of what appears to be police officers interacting with individuals - primarily African American, often poor - in ways that raise troubling questions," the president said, speaking at length about Baltimore at a White House press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

"This is not new. And we shouldn't pretend that it's new," the president said.

"I think there are police departments that have to do some soul-searching. I think there are some communities that have to do some soul-searching; but I think we as a country have to do some soul-searching," he added.

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