In 2015, the world would be exposed to the horrifying practice of "nickel rides" following the death of Freddie Gray. Out of the six officers charged in Gray’s death, Lieutenant Brian Rice and Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson were acquitted, and Sergeant Alicia White and Officers William Porter and Garrett Miller had their charges dropped by the state—no one was every punished for killing Freddie Gray.
Not only was no one ever held accountable, but some of these officers have been moving up in through the ranks, receiving pay raises and promotions the entire time.
Earlier this month, after her role in Gray's death, Sgt. White was promoted to captain in the Performance Standards Section in Baltimore City’s police force. In an ironic and insidious twist, while in this role, she will conduct audits and inspections and ensure the force follows proper policies while on duties, a press release states.
Hopefully, she is not in charge of proper policies while officers transport suspects.
As the late Claire Bernish wrote for TFTP,
After securing handcuffs and often leg restraints — but not belting passengers to the vehicle — officers transporting arrestees to the station, drive recklessly, purposefully doing their utmost to ensure maximum bumps, bruises, and worse — Gray’s spinal cord was almost entirely severed in what the medical examiner said resulted from a single, “high-energy” injury event.
His neck likely snapped upon impact when the officer driving slammed on the brakes — intentionally inflicting maximum damage upon Gray, who, of course, had yet to be tried, much less convicted, in a court of law.
That officers of the law, took it upon themselves to administer capital punishment, without the hindrance of the justice system, is the very definition of extrajudicial killing. Accordingly, Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges on May 1, 2015, and a grand jury indicted all six officers involved in Gray’s arrest and fatal transport less than a month later.
Progress cutting through the Thin Blue Line of impunity, it seemed, had been made — until each methodically escaped punishment for the ‘unofficially’ capital crime.
Despite a laundry list of charges from second-degree murder to second-degree manslaughter to misconduct in office, Freddie Gray's killers all walked free.
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Unfortunately, this seems to be a common occurrence among police officers with tainted and deadly pasts.
A report from the Washington Post looked at the cases of 1,881 officers who had been fired from major police departments across the country since 2006, and found that 451 of the officers had later been reinstated. They received their guns and badges and returned to the street once again—not because the reason they were fired was not legitimate, but because their offices made procedural mistakes when firing them.
“A San Antonio police officer caught on a dash cam challenging a handcuffed man to fight him for the chance to be released was reinstated in February. In the District, an officer convicted of sexually abusing a young woman in his patrol car was ordered returned to the force in 2015. And in Boston, an officer was returned to work in 2012 despite being accused of lying, drunkenness and driving a suspected gunman from the scene of a nightclub killing.”
Police unions were created to protect officers’ jobs, but as shown by the report, there are a number of cases in which the jobs are being protected, even when the officers should not be out on the streets.
Charles H. Ramsey, former police commissioner in Philadelphia and chief in the District, told the Post that in the last decade, the District has had to rehire 80 of the officers it fired, and three of them were rehired twice.
“It’s demoralizing to the rank and file who really don’t want to have those kinds of people in their ranks,” Ramsey said. “It causes a tremendous amount of anxiety in the public. Our credibility is shot whenever these things happen.”
The problem is one that is ongoing, and has been passed from one administration to the next, no matter which political party is in power.