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Undersheriff wants accountability in Freddie Gray’s death and for looters who targeted police

Posted 3 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Editor:

I must admit that, as a career law enforcement officer, I am disturbed by this past week’s events in the City of Baltimore, Maryland though not surprised.

Freddie Gray, age 25, was a career criminal who was no stranger to the Baltimore Police Department. On April 12th, BPD officer(s) apparently observed Gray acting in a suspicious manner. When they approached him, he ran. When they caught up with him, he was taken into custody. Either during that apprehension or while in police custody, it is alleged Gray sustained injuries that ultimately resulted in his death a week later on April 19th.

Freddie Gray was buried on Monday – April 27th. Almost immediately after the funeral, people took to the streets of Baltimore and began to loot and burn homes and businesses. They were angry about Gray’s death, and their perceived history of oppression by the Baltimore Police.

So the response was to loot and burn their own neighborhoods, and throw huge chunks of concrete at police officers who may not have ever known Freddie Gray, and were tasked with quelling the disturbance. Is there ANYTHING that can justify that type of response? And to make matters worse, the police were ultimately ordered to “stand down” and let the lawlessness go on unabated.

I don’t know what happened to Freddie Gray either during his arrest or in the first few hours that followed. Six police officers have now been charged with some type of responsibility for his death and if that death occurred at the hands of one (or more) of those officers without justification, of course there will be consequences.

Meanwhile, the “so-called” protestors have already begun the celebration. Of course the facts of the case are yet to be determined, but that’s OK as long as the cops got arrested, because any other action by the Maryland State’s Attorney would have resulted in more looting and burning and God knows what else.

Make no mistake, if one (or more) of those six Baltimore Police Officers maliciously murdered Freddie Gray, then of course they should be held accountable. But what about the looters, and arsonists, and “so-called” protestors who assaulted police officers with chunks of concrete and other objects? When will they be held accountable for their crimes? Probably not anytime soon and that’s what I find most disturbing of all.

Steve Smith
Undersheriff of Orleans County Sheriff’s Office