In 2015, Freddie Gray died from a neck injury while in the custody of Baltimore police, and all of the officers involved in the arrest and charged with felonies related to his death have been acquitted.
Monday, two of them got more news: big checks.
The Baltimore Sun reports that Alicia White and William Porter, two of the officers who were there the day Gray was placed in the back of a police van, where doctors believe his spine was severed, will receive a combined $167,000 ($98,855 to White and $70,523 to Porter) in back pay. They’ve both been suspended without pay since May 1, 2015. Now that they’ve been found not guilty, the department’s policy entitles them to be compensated for all the time they would have been working.
The two are just the latest officers involved in Gray’s death to receive back pay since it was determined that they were not criminally responsible. According to the Baltimore Sun, Caesar Goodson was paid $87,705 in July. Brian Rice got $126, 917 earlier this month.
Prosecutors failed to convince jurors that the officers had caused Gray's death by failing to secure him in a seat belt in the back of the van.
Gray’s death caused protests and riots when it occurred, when Baltimore residents expressed frustration and dismay with what they said was ongoing police abuse in the city’s African-American communities.
It’s even clearer now than after Freddie Gray’s death: The Baltimore Police Department is a disaster
Between the time the officers were acquitted and Monday’s announcement about the backpay they’ll receive, a Department of Justice investigation confirmed that the Baltimore Police Department was doing everything protestors said and more. Vox’s German Lopez summarized the DOJ report's nine most damning findings:
- Baltimore police target black Americans, even when they’re totally innocent of any crimes;
- Baltimore officers escalate typical policing situations into violence for no good reason;
- Before Freddie Gray, police were warned about the dangerous transportation practices that killed him;
- Good community policing was very rare — typically left to a few cops who defied systemic problems;
- There are "two Baltimores" — one white, one black — when it comes to policing;
- Baltimore police regularly violate people’s First Amendment rights;
- Baltimore police may not seriously investigate sexual assault cases;
- There’s little to no supervision and accountability at the Baltimore Police Department; and
- Virtually all parties — even Baltimore police officers — agree reform is needed
He went on to write that it’s easy to see how almost all of these major flaws could have played into Gray’s arrest and the fact that he lost his life in police custody:
In the Justice Department’s very damning report on the Baltimore Police Department, Freddie Gray’s name was seldom mentioned — but it rang through all the findings as a reminder of just how horribly every aspect of policing can go.
The report found a police force that got virtually everything wrong — pedestrian and traffic stops, use of force, arrests, transportation, training, oversight, accountability, basic interactions with the community, racial bias.
We still don’t know everything about Gray’s death and the lead-up to it — and we probably won’t ever know. But with this report, there is just enough context to put together the many mistakes that were made as Baltimore police arrested Gray and transported him in the last car ride of his life.