Freddie Gray was charged with illegal possession of a switchblade when he was arrested. While being transported in the police van he fell into a coma; later the cause of his death was ruled a trauma to his spinal cord. The incident took place on April 12, 2015. The autopsy report states that there was a ‘high-energy injury’ to his spine. A week later, he succumbed to his injuries and died. Initially the circumstances relating to his death were unclear. Eyewitnesses suggested that unnecessary force was used against him. This claim was rejected by the six officers who were in the van with Gray, but they admitted that he did not have his seatbelt on during the ride.
This incident led to protests all over Baltimore and fuelled the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. The main allegations were that the officers did not seatbelt Gray during his ride to the police station. Judge Williams stated that it was the officer's discretion when it comes to seat-belting. The public claims that the ride to the hospital was ‘rough’ and that the officers ignored his complaints of breathing difficulties. The whole incident and trial was highly controversial. As the prosecutors had failed to secure a conviction, the charges had to be dropped. The prosecutor still firmly holds the belief that this was an incident of homicide and states the officers did nothing to help Gray when he complained about breathing difficulties.
While many claim that the reading of the charges by Prosecutor Mosby was done solely to quell the protests, others say that they did not expect a conviction of the officers. This incident provoked more protests than the city has ever seen over the past decades.