WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice will not bring charges against Baltimore police officers over the fatal injury of a black man in custody in an incident that stoked tensions between African Americans and law enforcement, the Baltimore Sun reported on Tuesday.
A Justice Department criminal civil rights investigation into the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray has concluded that no charges were warranted, the newspaper said, citing sources close to the probe.
Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam told Reuters she had no comment on the Sun report.
Gray was arrested in April 2015 and suffered a fatal spinal injury while being transported in a police van. The largely African-American city erupted in rioting on the day of his funeral, leading to a curfew and deployment of National Guard troops.
His death was one of several incidents in recent years in U.S. cities, such as Ferguson, Missouri, that sparked a nationwide debate about the use of excessive force by police, especially against black men.
Baltimore prosecutors charged six police officers in Gray’s death, but none were convicted. Public disciplinary trials are scheduled for five of the officers.
Loretta Lynch, the attorney general under Democratic President Barack Obama, announced the federal civil rights investigation on the day of the rioting.
Michael Davey, a lawyer for the Baltimore police union, said in a statement that neither the union nor the officers had been contacted by the Justice Department.
“However, if the sources are accurate, we are pleased that the DOJ came to the conclusions that are being reported,” he said in a statement.
A police spokesman had no comment on the Sun report that the probe had ended with no charges. Lawyers for Gray’s family could not be reached for comment.
A sweeping Justice Department review released last year found that Baltimore police regularly violated African-Americans’ civil rights through strip searches, unlawful stops and excessive force.
A federal judge in April approved an agreement with the Department of Justice to overhaul the police department that included changes in training and the use of force.
Approval came despite a request from the administration of Obama’s successor, Republican Donald Trump, to delay implementation. Attorney General Jeff Sessions contended that the agreement could hinder crime-fighting efforts in Maryland’s biggest city.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Andrew Hay