The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday closed a probe prompted by the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray. It concluded Baltimore police officers regularly violate the constitutional rights of Black residents through the use of excessive force, unlawful searches and arrests, and racial discrimination, USA Today reports.
The DOJ opened the investigation on May 8, 2015, a month after 25-year-old Gray died from injuries sustained during an encounter with police. The six officers involved in his arrest avoided convictions on charges that ranged from second-degree depraved heart murder to misconduct in office.
From USA Today:
“After engaging in a thorough investigation, initiated at the request of the City of Baltimore and BPD (Baltimore City Police Department), the Department of Justice concludes that there is reasonable cause to believe that BPD engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the Constitution or federal law,” reads the 162-page report released to the public Tuesday night.
The report said the police department makes unconstitutional searches and arrests, uses excessive force, uses “enforcement strategies that produce severe and unjustified disparities in the rates of stops, searches and arrests of African Americans,” and retaliates against people practicing freedom of expression, which is protected by the Constitution.
The report goes on to say that the relationship between police and Baltimore’s residents is “broken.” Investigators also found that residents in “impoverished, minority communities,” felt disenfranchised, “belittled, disbelieved and disrespected,” by officers, USA Today notes.
“Indeed, our review of documents and our conversations with residents confirm that distrust is causing individuals to be reluctant to cooperate with police,” the report reads.
The probe was part of a court agreement that would require the police department to hold itself accountable and make reforms to better community relations. But those reforms are rarely seen through in Baltimore, the report states.
“BPD’s failings result from deficient policies, training, oversight and accountability, and policing strategies that do not engage effectively with the community the department services,” the study reads. “We are heartened to find both widespread recognition of these challenges and strong interest in reform.”
The report comes as news that the highest-ranking police officer acquitted in the death of Freddie Gray, Lt. Brian S. Rice, will receive $127,000 in back pay.
SOURCE: USA TODAY | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty