The City of Baltimore proposed a $6.4 million dollar settlement to the Freddie Gray family leaving people wondering if this is an admission of liability. What kind of trial will the six accused officers get now that this has been proposed?
The family of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old black man whose death from a spinal cord injury while in police custody set off riots in Baltimore in April, has reached a $6.4 million settlement with the city, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake announced Tuesday.
The proposed settlement, which will be taken up by the Board of Estimates — the panel that approves contracts and purchases for the city — at its meeting on Wednesday, does not “constitute an admission of liability on the part of the city, the Baltimore Police Department, individual Baltimore Police officers,” or anyone else who might be responsible for Mr. Gray’s death, Ms. Rawlings-Blake said in a statement.
The settlement comes as judicial hearings are just beginning in the cases of six officers facing criminal charges in Mr. Gray’s death. Last week, Judge Barry G. Williams of the Baltimore City Circuit Court ruled that the six would be tried separately; on Thursday, Judge Williams will conduct another hearing to consider a request by defense lawyers to move the trials outside Baltimore.
“The proposed settlement agreement going before the Board of Estimates should not be interpreted as a judgment on the guilt or innocence of the officers facing trial,” Ms. Rawlings-Blake said. The proposed settlement will be paid as $2.8 million in the current fiscal year and $3.6 million in the year beginning in July 2016.
Mr. Gray was arrested April 12 in West Baltimore, a blighted neighborhood of boarded-up rowhouses. His death on April 19 set off nearly two weeks of largely peaceful protests, followed by a night of looting and arson — the worst rioting Baltimore has seen since 1968. It also opened a deep wound in Baltimore, a majority black city with an African-American mayor and a history of tensions between black residents and the police.
In filing criminal charges against the six officers, the state’s attorney for Baltimore City, Marilyn J. Mosby, has asserted they improperly arrested and shackled Mr. Gray, flouting police rules and standards of decency by loading him into a police van without required safety restraints, and ignoring his pleas for help during the ride. Ms. Mosby has argued that the spinal cord injury that killed Mr. Gray occurred while he was being transported in the van.
The six face varying charges. Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the driver of the police van in which Mr. Gray was injured, is charged with second-degree depraved-heart murder — in essence, murder with willful disregard for human life. Sgt. Alicia D. White, Lt. Brian Rice and Officer William G. Porter are charged with manslaughter. Officers Edward M. Nero and Garrett Miller face lesser charges, including second-degree assault.
On Thursday, lawyers for the six officers are expected to argue before Judge Williams that the officers cannot get a fair trial in Baltimore because of the intense publicity surrounding the case.