It’s the story that never seems to go away. The Freddie Gray trials in Baltimore are long since in our rear view mirror, but the entire matter wasn’t settled. Five of the officers involved in the arrest were still scheduled to go before departmental trial boards for review of the incident and possible disciplinary action. These trial boards are comprised of both police and civilian members and the reviews are open to the press and the public in an effort to promote transparency.
The first two of those hearings were cancelled however. Officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero (both of whom we’ve written about here before) opted to take an initial offer of discipline rather than going through the entire process. (Baltimore Sun)
Two Baltimore police officers have accepted “minor disciplinary action” in relation to their involvement in the 2015 arrest of Freddie Gray rather than argue their cases before departmental trial boards, as they had been scheduled to do, a police union attorney confirmed Tuesday.
The discipline marks the first punishment against officers in the high-profile case, after local prosecutors tried but failed to secure criminal convictions and federal prosecutors declined to bring charges.
Officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero “believe they did not violate any of the policies, procedures or practices of the Baltimore Police Department,” but “accepted the disciplinary action to move on from this unfortunate incident and continue their careers,” said attorney Michael Davey, with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3.
At this point the department isn’t specifying what the “minor disciplinary action” is, but the Baltimore Sun previously spoke to a source who suggested that five days of unpaid suspension was on the table. In the larger scope of things, it sounds as if these two officers were simply tired of this circus grinding on forever and would rather suck it up for five days off without pay than sit through another series of public hearings.
Is that fair? Well, the legal system determined that they and their colleagues were not guilty of any actual crimes (or in the case of some, gave up on even trying to prove it) but there’s a difference between committing a crime and violating departmental policy. It’s still entirely possible that the board could find them in violation and administer some form of punishment up to and including termination. This might have been the safe bet.
That’s in keeping with the statement released by their attorney. He said that while they didn’t feel they were in violation of departmental policies, they wanted to get on with their lives and their careers, ensuring that they can support themselves and their families. Considering the lingering mood of hostility which still shows up around the city, it’s hard to fault them on that score.
Three other officers have not as yet taken such a deal and are scheduled to appear before the trial boards between the end of this month and early December. At that point, it’s still conceivable that some of them could lose their jobs over this. But if not, it sounds as if this will finally be the actual end of the road. I certainly hope so, because this now feels as if it’s been dragging on since the last century.