Justice Dept. to Investigate Death in Baltimore Police Custody - Southern Maryland Headline News

Justice Dept. to Investigate Death in Baltimore Police Custody


By Tim Curtis

WASHINGTON (April 21, 2015) – The Justice Department said Tuesday it will investigate the death of Freddie Gray after members of Maryland’s Congressional delegation sent the department a letter requesting an inquiry.

Gray, 25, died Sunday after suffering a severe neck injury while in police custody on April 12 in Baltimore. Police said Monday that he was injured while being transported in a police van.

Protests over the African American man’s death have rallied around the slogan “Black Lives Matter,” which has also been used to protest the police-involved deaths of other black men around the country like Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

Amid the protests and speculation about Gray’s death, Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin and Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Baltimore; Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Cockeysville; and John Sarbanes, D-Towson called on the Justice Department to investigate.

“We are deeply troubled by recent events in the City of Baltimore,” they wrote. “Freddie Gray’s family and the residents of the City of Baltimore deserve to know what happened to him while he was in police custody. We need answers.”

“We need the facts to restore the public confidence in the Baltimore Police Department.,” they added.

All five members of Congress represent Baltimore and its surrounding areas. Before they moved to the Senate, Mikulski and Cardin held House seats that represented the city.

Soon after the letter was released, Justice Department spokeswoman Dena Iverson announced an investigation into Gray’s death.

“The Department of Justice has been monitoring the developments in Baltimore, Maryland, regarding the death of Freddie Gray. Based on preliminary information, the Department of Justice has officially opened this matter and is gathering information to determine whether any prosecutable civil rights violation occurred,” she said in a statement.

“The mayor’s main focus is getting to the bottom of what happened to Mr. Gray in the most transparent way possible,” Kevin Harris, a spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake, told The Baltimore Sun. “And in a way that the community has trust in.”

On Monday, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said that the department’s investigation would finish on May 1, at which time the results would be sent to the state’s attorney’s office to determine whether to file charges.

Six Baltimore police officers have been suspended in connection with Gray’s death.

Cardin, Mikulski, Cummings, Ruppersberger, Sarbanes Call On Justice Department To Open Federal Criminal And Civil Rights Investigations Into Death Of Baltimore Resident Freddie Gray

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski together with Representatives Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes (all D-Md.) today in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to open federal criminal and civil rights investigations into the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray. Mr. Gray, 25, died this past Sunday, a week after he was injured while in Baltimore Police custody.

“Freddie Gray’s family and the residents of the City of Baltimore deserve to know what happened to him while he was in police custody. We need answers,” the Members wrote. “While the vast majority of police officers act within the law to serve and protect their communities, incidents like this degrade the trust necessary to maintain the relationship between law enforcement and communities. We urge the Department of Justice to swiftly conduct all necessary investigations. We need the facts to restore the public confidence in the Baltimore Police Department.”

The letter to Attorney General Eric Holder follows:

April 21, 2015

The Honorable Eric Holder
Attorney General
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Attorney General Holder:

We are deeply troubled by recent events in the City of Baltimore. As you know, Baltimore resident Freddie Gray, 25, died Sunday April 19, one week after he was injured while in Baltimore Police custody.

Freddie Gray’s family and the residents of the City of Baltimore deserve to know what happened to him while he was in police custody. We need answers.

While we support the efforts of the ongoing review into the policies and procedures of the Baltimore Police Department by the Community Oriented Policing Services Office, we request that the Department of Justice open a federal criminal and civil rights investigation into the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray.

While the vast majority of police officers act within the law to serve and protect their communities, incidents like this degrade the trust necessary to maintain the relationship between law enforcement and communities. We urge the Department of Justice to swiftly conduct all necessary investigations. We need the facts to restore the public confidence in the Baltimore Police Department.

Sincerely,

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