The state’s attorney here dropped all remaining charges Wednesday against three city police officers awaiting trial in the death of Freddie Gray, closing the book on one of the most closely watched police prosecutions in the nation without a single conviction — and few answers about precisely how the young man died.
The announcement ended a sweeping, deeply polarizing prosecution that began last spring, as National Guard troops rumbled through the streets, with Baltimore under curfew and residents tense after looting and riots that broke out after Mr. Gray sustained a fatal spinal cord injury in police custody.
Mr. Gray, a 25-year-old black man, had been arrested after he spotted a police presence as he walked with friends and ran away. He was found unresponsive and not breathing after he rode unsecured in a police transport wagon after his arrest on a bright morning in April 2015, and died a week later. Six officers were charged with crimes including manslaughter and murder; the first trial ended in a hung jury, and three more officers were acquitted after trials before a judge.
Wednesday’s extraordinary turn put into sharp relief the wrenching national debate over race and policing, after a month of deadly shootings of black men and deadly retaliations against police officers around the nation. Just a few weeks ago, President Obama pleaded for racial healing after five police officers in Dallas were gunned down by a black Army veteran. The outcome also left the city deeply divided over whether its top prosecutor, Marilyn J. Mosby, 36, had overreached in her initial charges.
Facing cameras in front of a bright-colored mural — a homage to Mr. Gray — in the blighted West Baltimore neighborhood where he grew up, she defended herself, sounding every bit as fiery and passionate as she was a year ago in May when she drew national attention in announcing the charges. She accused the police department of working to thwart her investigation.
“We do not believe Freddie Gray killed himself,” Ms. Mosby said, calling the decision to drop the charges “agonizing.” Complaining she lacked an independent investigatory agency, she added, “Without real substantive reforms to the current criminal justice system, we could try this case 100 times and cases just like it, and we would still end up with the same result” as reported by nytimes.com.