No one’s been convicted yet in the death of Freddie Gray, the Baltimore man who was killed in police custody–but the city of Baltimore is already paying through the nose.
The city of Baltimore agreed to pay his family $6.4 million in restitution and accepts full civil liability for Gray’s death, even though they haven’t yet filed a civil suit against the city.
Offering a settlement now would, if Gray’s family accepts it, avoid a lengthy and embarrassing trial for the city, and could prevent both the city and Gray’s family from discussing the case publicly.
Gray, 25, died while he was in police custody back in April. Six officers have been indicted in his death, but have not yet gone to trial.
Gray’s death sparked race riots that laid waste to inner-city Baltimore, and helped sink the nascent presidential campaign of former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Gray’s death has also made him a major figure in the so-called Black Lives Matter movement, which has been criticized for turning many African-Americans against the nation’s police officers.
Nationwide, the murder rate has skyrocketed–up more than 40% in cities like Milwaukee, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. and a number of police officers have also been assassinated, with their killers claiming that they were avenging the death of slain civilians like Gray.
A generous settlement from the city of Baltimore could help keep the death of Freddie Gray off the headlines–but it could also risk fanning the flames of discontent.