[JURIST] The State’s Attorney for Baltimore City on Friday charged six police officers [press release] with crimes including murder and manslaughter over the death of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray while he was in police custody. Baltimore state attorney Marilyn Mosby [official profile] filed charges almost immediately upon receiving the medical examiner’s report that ruled Gray’s death a homicide. Gray’s arrest and death have led to ongoing protests and civil disorder in the city of Baltimore. Earlier this week Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged Baltimore police to exercise restraint [JURIST report] during protests, prioritize non-violent means and limit the use of force. Also on Friday, amidst national concern about police behavior, the US Department of Justice [official website] announced a $20 million body camera grant [press release] program that includes training, technical assistance and evaluation to accompany $17 million for local law enforcement agencies to purchase body-worn cameras. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said, “Body-worn cameras hold tremendous promise for enhancing transparency, promoting accountability, and advancing public safety for law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.”
Racial tension has recently mounted in the US following several police killings of unarmed black men. Earlier this year Judge Edgar Dickson of the South Carolina Circuit Court declared a mistrial [JURIST report] in the murder case against a former police chief for the 2011 killing of an unarmed black man. After a grand jury decided not to indict [JURIST report] the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who last year shot and killed Micheal Brown [USA Today Timeline], an African American teenager, there was a large uproar from the Ferguson community that led to mass protests and violence in some instances. The case had reached international news with AI reporting [JURIST report] human rights abuses by Ferguson Police in late October. In early October a federal judge ruled [JURIST report] that the police tactics used on protesters was unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction. The American Civil Liberties Union [advocacy website] also published a report [JURIST report] arguing that increased militarization of police forces is putting citizens at risk rather than protecting them.