Nearly five years ago, the prosecution of six Baltimore police officers in the case of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Black man whose death in police custody sparked historic unrest in the city, ended with no convictions.
After three officers in the case were each tried and acquitted, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby went to West Baltimore — where Gray was raised and arrested — to announce that she would be dropping charges against the remaining officers. Mosby said she “must consider the dismal likelihood” of conviction, describing the decision as “agonizing.”
Despite the failed prosecution, the criminal case against the officers proved a watershed moment. The Freddie Gray case instigated a new push for stronger police accountability laws and set the precedent in Baltimore and in cities across the country for implementing significant police reform.
“That accountability ultimately led to reform, and because of that reform, we had a spotlight on the entrenched police corruption in one of the largest police agencies in the country,” Mosby told CNN.
As a result of the case, officers are now mandated to seatbelt those in custody, call a medic when it’s requested, and intervene when fellow officers cross the line, Mosby said. Additionally, all police vans must be equipped with cameras.
Department underwent a ‘total makeover’
In the wake of Gray’s death, then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked the Department of Justice to order a civil rights investigation into the city’s police department. The findings revealed a “pattern-or-practice of constitutional violations,” including excessive force and racially biased arrests. The probe ultimately led to the imple