That was the scurrilous fable an anonymous Baltimore Police Department source leaked to The Washington Post two Aprils ago, shortly after Gray died of spinal chord injuries incurred while in police custody. Four prosecutions later, it appears to be the official verdict of the justice system.
On Monday, Baltimore Police Lieutenant Brian Rice became the third of six indicted officers to be acquitted of all charges related to Gray’s death. A fourth, William Porter, is currently awaiting retrial, following a hung jury decision last December, and proceedings are set to commence against the final two officers. But there is little reason to believe that the outcomes will be any different.
As has been the case throughout the proceedings, Judge Barry G. Williams, a black man whose record as a federal prosecutor includes successful convictions against abusive cops, seems to have adhered to high, if demanding, legal standards in determining Rice’s acquittal. But whatever the minutiae of the trials themselves—whatever errors the prosecution might have made, whatever the relevant statutes in play—the message being conveyed is clear: If Gray’s death was a crime, it was a crime without a perpetrator. For all intents and purposes, he might as well have killed himself.