All six police officers charged over the death of 25 year-old Freddie Gray have been released on bail, following a brief spell of detention at Baltimore’s central booking and intake centre.
Four officers, charged with felony crimes including second degree murder and manslaughter, each posted a $350,000 bail, while two others, charged with misdemeanours including second degree assault, posted $250,000. The bail amount and the officers’ ability to pay came in stark contrast to many of those accused of rioting during the unrest sparked by Gray’s death.
The Guardian revealed this week that 18-year-old Allen Bullock , charged with eight criminal counts including rioting and destruction of property after he handed himself in to authorities following his involvement in the unrest, was given $500,000 bail, which his family was unable to pay.
Bullock’s public defender Jennifer Davis told the Guardian it was “outrageous” that the teenager, who is facing his first charges as an adult, should be given a bail charge at least $150,000 more than the officers accused over Gray’s death.
Bullock’s parents told the Guardian on Thursday that they could not afford to pay the bail fee. The teenager is not due for another hearing until 28 May and was committed to jail, according to court records.
“As parents we wanted Allen to do the right thing,” Bobbi Smallwood, Bullock’s mother, told the Guardian through tears on Thursday. “He was dead wrong and he does need to be punished. But he wasn’t leading this riot. He hasn’t got that much power.”
“It is just so much money,” she added.
Baltimore City state’s attorney Marilyn Mosby made the shock announcement on Friday morning that all six officers involved in Gray’s arrest would be charged with crimes after she concluded an independent investigation into his death in custody. Mosby had also received the findings of a police inquiry and a medical examiners report into Gray’s death.
The 25-year-old died after breaking his neck in the back of a police van . He was placed in handcuffs and leg shackles, but was not placed in a seatbelt at any point during his journey inside the van. Mosby stated that none of the officers attempted to render medical assistance to Gray, even after he was found to be unresponsive and lying face down in the van.
Grays death on 19 April, a week after he sustained his fatal injury, led to a period of intense civil unrest, which saw a number of buildings burned and businesses around Baltimore looted.
His death has also reinvigorated discussion about Baltimore’s impoverished African American community many of whom reside in Gray’s Sandtown-Winchester neighbourhood .
Three officers involved in Gray’s death, including Caesar Goodson Jr who drove the police van and who faces a second degree murder charge, were African American.
A 10pm curfew has remained in the city since Tuesday. On Friday members of Gray’s family renewed their calls for calm .
More than 50 protesters were arrested on Friday night in Baltimore after hundreds took to the city’s streets for another night of demonstrations.
After news of the officers’ arrests was made public, widespread anger over Freddie Gray’s death turned into spontaneous celebration. A crowd of roughly one thousand marched to city hall late in the afternoon, where some of the protesters remained as curfew neared. Fifteen protesters were arrested outside City Hall, police confirmed.
Several hundred protesters moved to the intersection of Pennsylvania and W North avenues, the focal point for many of the past week’s demonstrations. There, protesters danced, sang, and chanted Gray’s name.
Congressman Elijah Cummings, as he has on every evening since the curfew was imposed on Tuesday, arrived shortly before curfew to urge protesters to return to their homes peacefully. Once he had left, the protest largely thinned.
A flatbed truck formed, briefly, an impromptu stage; a chant of “fuck the curfew, and fuck the police too” went up briefly, but by the time riot police began to advance around 25 minutes into curfew there were few left for them to push back but journalists. One lone protester lingered long enough to get apprehended by a group of police officers who broke formation to grab the man in the middle of the intersection, as a national guardsman kept his assault weapon firmly pointed towards the man.
Despite curfew being in place, dozens of Baltimore residents were seen walking around the city’s streets after 10pm, some within sight of police officers.
By Oliver Laughland, Raya Jalabi and Nicky Woolf in Baltimore and Jon Swaine in New York