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U.S. says police six off hook in death

In Freddie Gray case, no charges

BALTIMORE -- The U.S. Department of Justice said Tuesday that it won't bring federal charges against six police officers involved in the arrest and in-custody death of Freddie Gray, a young black man whose death touched off weeks of protests and unrest in Baltimore.

The officers were charged by state prosecutors after Gray's neck was broken in the back of a police transport wagon in April 2015. The 25-year-old was handcuffed and shackled at the time, but he was unrestrained by a seat belt.

The Justice Department said in a statement that while Gray's death was "undeniably tragic," federal prosecutors did not find enough evidence to prove the officers willfully violated his civil rights, a high legal threshold.

The decision means none of the officers will be held criminally responsible for Gray's death. Three officers were acquitted at trial, and Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby later dropped the remaining state cases.

[Read about recent fatal shootings by police across the country.]

Five officers face internal disciplinary hearings scheduled to begin Oct. 30. Those officers are Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White and officers Caesar Goodson, Edward Nero and Garrett Miller. The sixth officer, William Porter, was not charged administratively.

The Justice Department's decision was first reported by The Baltimore Sun. The agency, along with the Baltimore Police Department, Mayor Catherine Pugh, Mosby and the U.S. attorney's office, declined to comment on the decision.

Gray's death triggered the firing of then-Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and prompted the Justice Department to open an investigation into allegations of discriminatory policing practices and unlawful arrests.

Last year, the Justice Department released a report detailing widespread patterns of abuse and misconduct within the Baltimore Police Department, and in January entered into a court-enforceable agreement to overhaul the agency.

On Tuesday, attorneys representing the officers expressed relief that their clients will not be held criminally responsible for Gray's death.

"These cases were never criminal and should never have been charged as such," said Rice's attorney, Michael Belsky.

A Section on 09/13/2017

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