Prosecutors in the eastern U.S. state of Maryland have dropped all remaining charges against Baltimore city police officers awaiting trial in the death of Freddie Gray, bringing a high-profile case that caught national attention to an abrupt end.
Gray, an African American, suffered severe spinal cord injuries in April 2015 while handcuffed and unrestrained in the back of a police van.
His death added fuel to the Black Lives Matter movement and sparked riots in Baltimore and large protests throughout the country.
At a hearing Wednesday that was to start the trial for officer Garrett Miller, prosecutor Michael Schatzow told Judge Barry Williams the state was dropping all charges against the officers yet to go to trial.
Three of the six officers charged in the case have been acquitted.
State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said shortly after the charges were dropped that there was “a reluctance” and an “obvious bias” among some police investigators.
“We do not believe Freddie Gray killed himself,” she added, speaking in front of a mural of Gray in the neighborhood where he was arrested. “We stand by the medical examiner’s determination that Freddie Gray’s death was a homicide,” she said in the midst of shouts of support.
Gene Ryan, president of the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police, said “Justice has been done” and added that remarks Mosby made about the police investigators were “outrageous.”
Gray’s mother, Gloria Darden, told reporters the officers were not truthful during the investigation. “I know they lied, and they killed him.”
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a statement from the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. “I recognize the emotional nature of this case. The eyes of the nation, indeed the world, have been on Baltimore for a very long time and I thank the citizens of our city for their patience during these trials.”
Prosecutors maintained Gray was illegally arrested after he fled from an officer and that the six officers failed to buckle Gray into a seat belt or call for medical help when he asked for it. All of the officers, three white and three black, pleaded not guilty.
Mosby brought charges of second degree murder, manslaughter, reckless endangerment and assault after receiving findings from the police department’s investigation.
Although the six Baltimore police officers have been cleared of criminal charges, Baltimore’s police commissioner has asked for an internal affairs review by outside agencies that could determine whether the officers can return to street duty.
The Gray case was one in a series of high-profile deaths of African American suspects at the hands of U.S. police that renewed a national debate about excessive police force against minorities.
The Justice Department began investigating allegations of widespread abuse and unlawful arrests by Baltimore police after Gray’s death. The results of that investigation have not been disclosed.