In a statement released by the DOJ, the department said that prosecutors and investigators determined that “the evidence is insufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt” that the officers involved in Freddie Gray’s death “willfully violated” his civil rights, according to NPR.
“Accordingly, the investigation into this incident has been closed without prosecution,” the department said, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Gray was arrested on April 12, 2015 in West Baltimore and, with his legs shackled and was handcuffed, was placed in the back of a police van without being restrained with a seatbelt, according to NPR. As a result, Gray suffered a broken neck during the transport and died a week later.
Gray’s death sparked protests in Baltimore against police brutality with the city ultimately being placed on a week-long nightly curfew, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Marilyn J. Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore, ended up filing criminal charges against the six officers involved in Gray’s death, ranging from “misconduct in office” to “second-degree depraved heart murder”, NPR reports. However, all of the officers plead not guilty, and none were convicted.
Former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on April 27, 2015 that the DOJ would conduct a criminal civil rights investigation, and “continue our careful and deliberate examination of the facts in the coming days and weeks” to conclude if the officers should be charged with violating Gray’s civil rights, The Baltimore Sun reports.
Now two years later, the DOJ’s decision means that none of police officers will be criminally held responsible for Gray’s death. However, this decision did not come as a surprise as proving a federal case is far more difficult than prosecuting under the local charges, according to NPR.
The DOJ’s decision, however, was still disappointing to many. Maryland’s Congressional members — Representatives Elijah Cummings, John Sarbanes and Dutch Ruppersberger and Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen — released a joint statement saying they were disappointed but not surprised, CNN reports.
“In light of this reported decision, we are once again calling on DOJ to actively support — not undermine —the consent decree and to provide Baltimore with all federal resources available to improve our police force. Doing anything less would be unconscionable,” the Congressmen said.
— The King Center (@TheKingCenter) September 12, 2017
Kwame Rose, a Baltimore city activist, told The Huffington Post that the DOJ’s decision was not surprising.
Police officers still continue to get a free pass to killing black people, and it’s especially not surprising under this [presidential] administration,” Rose said. “Now it’s just becoming more and more apparent that … the issue of policing has to change from outside the system, as opposed to believing that the system is gonna change it.”