Today, Baltimore prosecutors dropped all charges filed against the remaining three Baltimore police officers pending trial for their involvement in the police in-custody death of Freddie Gray, an unarmed Black man. “We are deeply disappointed that no one has been held responsible for the in-custody death of Freddie Gray,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF).
“One thing is undisputed: When police placed Mr. Gray into the van he was conscious. When they removed Mr. Gray, he was unconscious and his spine was broken,” Ifill said. “Without question, our hearts go out to the family of Freddie Gray and to all innocent victims of police violence. We continue to believe in the rule of law, but recognize that there are deep and structural flaws which must be corrected.”
LDF calls on every member of the justice system who has taken an oath to uphold the law to join us in seeking to ensure that the system proves itself worthy of the public’s confidence. We are committed to reviewing and reforming the standards to which police officers are held under state and federal laws and departmental policies.
Moving forward, the U.S. Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation of the Baltimore Police Department’s (BPD) use-of-force, stops, searches, and arrests policies and practices to determine if there are systemic violations of constitutional and federal laws. The Baltimore community eagerly awaits the DOJ’s findings.
Last week, LDF and a city-wide coalition of advocates sent a letter to Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Kevin Davis urging them to reform the city’s new contract with the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police. Specifically, we implored that civilians be allowed to serve on BPD disciplinary hearing boards as intended by recent changes to Maryland’s Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights.
“LDF will continue to work with Baltimore advocates to advance systemic policing reforms,” said Monique Dixon, Deputy Director of Policy and lead attorney for LDF’s Policing Reform Campaign. “Our goal is to prevent future loss of life at the hands of police, not simply respond to it.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.