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6 Baltimore officers in Freddie Gray case back at work

None of the officers are back to patrolling the streets of West Baltimore, where Freddie Gray was arrested in 2015


Officer Caesar Goodson, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, arrives at a courthouse before receiving a verdict in his trial in Baltimore, Thursday, June 23, 2016.

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

By Tim Prudente
The Baltimore Sun

BALTIMORE — One officer now patrols the Baltimore waterfront. Another works with the unit that polices the city in helicopters. A third officer, now a detective, investigates powerful drug rings.

Today, all six officers who were charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray case are back on duty.

None are back to patrolling the streets of West Baltimore, where Gray was arrested in 2015 and suffered a severe injury in the back of a police van.

“They were offered positions outside the patrol division, and they’re satisfied with their assignments,” said Michael Davey, the attorney for the union that represents Baltimore police officers. “All they wanted to do was serve.”

Gray died in April 2015 after suffering a severe spinal cord injury in a police van. Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby brought criminal charges against the six officers ranging from misconduct in office to second-degree murder. Three officers were acquitted, and Mosby dropped all remaining charges against the other three.

Five of the officers then faced administrative charges within the police department for allegedly violating department rules and policies and neglecting their duties. Two accepted minor discipline and returned to duty. Two fought the charges and were acquitted by police trial boards.

Police Commissioner Kevin Davis then dropped charges against the last of the five.

Sgt. Alicia White received the phone call on the night before Thanksgiving. By Monday, she was fully reinstated.

“She kept saying, ‘The nightmare’s over. I can’t believe the nightmare’s over,’ ” said Tony Garcia, her attorney.

White was a newly minted sergeant in the Western District when Gray was arrested. She now works in the Strategic Services Bureau, a new unit that coordinates policy, officer training and discipline.

Lt. Brian Rice, the highest-ranking officer charged, now works in the crime lab, which collects and processes evidence.

Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., who drove the van in which Gray was injured, now works in the CitiWatch unit, which monitors surveillance cameras across the city.

Officer Edward Nero, who arrived at the scene shortly after Gray’s arrest and helped place him in the back of the van, was one of the officers who accepted minor discipline. He now works in the department’s aviation unit, which runs the helicopter patrols.

Officer Garrett Miller, who initially arrested Gray, was the other officer who accepted minor discipline. He now works in the marine unit, which polices the city’s waterfront and waterways.

Officer William Porter, who was called to check on Gray and found him unconscious, is now a detective, working alongside federal agents to investigate drug trafficking. He was the only one of the six who did not face administrative charges.

“Everyone is reinstated and back to work with full police powers,” said Chief T.J. Smith, the department spokesman.

Davis’ decision to drop administrative charges against White brought an end to two years of criminal and administrative prosecutions of the officers.

The U.S. Justice Department also investigated the officers for possible civil rights violations, but declined to charge them.

“That’s all finally over and they can try and put this behind them and move on with their lives,” said Davey, the police union attorney. “No one is taking lightly what happened to Mr. Gray.”

Davey said Nero and Miller accepted their punishments as a way to move on and avoid the administrative hearings. He said neither officer believed he had neglected his duties.

Goodson’s attorney, Sean Malone, has called his client’s acquittal at his administrative trial a vindication.

Left to litigate is the federal lawsuit filed by five of the officers accusing Mosby of malicious prosecution and defamation.

Rice, Miller, Nero, Porter and White say Mosby knowingly filed false charges against them.

Mosby and her attorneys have argued that the charges fell within her rights and duties as a prosecutor and therefore are protected.

The sides are scheduled to make their arguments to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va. on Dec. 6.

For White, the past two years have been “hell,” Garcia said. Her pay was frozen during the criminal prosecution and she fell behind on her mortgage payments, he said. She suffered crippling anxiety and was once rushed to the hospital, he said.

“She had this dark cloud hanging over her for years,” Garcia said.

Last year, her family tried to console her during the holidays, he said. This Thanksgiving, she was met with their congratulations.

©2017 The Baltimore Sun