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The six police officers connected to the death of 25-year-old Baltimore man Freddie Gray will not face federal charges in the matter. The Justice Department says that in their review, they were unable to find instances where Gray’s civil rights were violated.

From the Justice Department’s press office:

The Department examined the facts in this case under all relevant criminal statutes. The principal criminal statute applicable to these facts is Title 18, United States Code, Section 242, Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law. In order to proceed with a prosecution under Section 242, prosecutors must first establish beyond a reasonable doubt that a law enforcement officer deprived an individual of a constitutional right. Prosecutors considered multiple theories of liability, based on multiple constitutional provisions, including theories of false arrest, excessive force, and deliberate indifference to the risk of serious harm to Gray.

Additionally, to prove that any police encounter violated section 242, the government must also prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer acted willfully. This high legal standard – one of the highest standards of intent imposed by law – requires proof that the officer acted with the specific intent to do something the law forbids. It is not enough to show that the officer made a mistake, acted negligently, acted by accident, or even exercised bad judgment.

Although Gray’s death is undeniably tragic, the evidence in this case is insufficient to meet these substantial evidentiary requirements. In light of this, and for the reasons explained below, this matter is not a prosecutable violation of the federal civil rights statutes.

Charges of murder and manslaughter were brought by Baltimore state’s attorney Marilyn J. Mosby but officers were cleared of criminal wrongdoing in that matter as well. All six officers remain on the Baltimore Police Department’s payroll.

Photo: Baltimore Police

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