Freddie Gray died while in police custody in Baltimore, Maryland. His injuries happened in the back of a police van as the van was going to jail. He was not wearing a safety belt as required. Mr. Gray was black. Areas in the city erupted in violent riots in response to his death.
The Gray case was one of several cases in the nation. Police shot and killed unarmed black people. Others died in the custody of the police.
The events alarmed the nation. A “Black Lives Matter” movement started.
In Baltimore, the six police officers involved in the Gray case are going on trial one at a time. The first trial ended in a hung jury. That means the jury could not reach a decision on guilt or innocence.
The second trial was a “bench” trial. That means a judge, not a jury, decides guilt or innocence. The second defendant chose a bench trial.
The judge in the bench trial ruled the officer not guilty. The reasons stated by the judge show a lot about how the law works. The officer helped make the arrest of Mr. Gray. He was not involved in what happened in the van. Making sure that police buckled Mr. Gray’s seat belt in the van was the job of the driver.
The basic question is, was there “probable cause” to arrest Mr. Gray.? The prosecutors said there was no probable cause to arrest him. They said his arrest was a crime.
The judge disagreed. He said that an arrest without probable cause is not a crime in itself. He freed the officer.
That is how the law works. Most lawyers agree with the judge. Others believe justice means that someone has to go to jail. An activist said, “The only measure of justice that will lead to healing is the conviction of these officers.”
The next person to go on trial is the driver of the van.
Source: The Christian Science Monitor May 23, 2016
TIPS – 5.1