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The family of Freddie Gray said they are glad that criminal charges were brought against the six officers involved in the 25-year-old’s arrest, which ended in his death a week later from a spinal injury, and repeated calls that protesters remain peaceful.
"We are satisfied with today’s charges. These charges are an important step in getting justice for Freddie," Gray's stepfather, Richard Shipley, told reporters Friday.
"And we ask that whoever comes to our city, a city that we love, a city that we live in, come in peace. And if you are not coming in peace, please don’t come at all. Because this city needs to get back to work," he said.
Baltimore has been racked by large protests — some of which have become violent, causing a curfew to be put in place and the governor to deploy the National Guard — since Gray died on April 19 from a spinal injury he suffered while in police custody.
Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby on Friday announced charges ranging from second-degree heart depraved murder and involuntary manslaughter to assault against the police officers involved in Gray’s arrest and transport, and said the arrest was illegal.
When Gray’s family heard there would be charges they were "in shock, and it was good shock," said William Murphy, an attorney who represents the family, said.
"Today is a momentous step in the path to justice for Freddie," Murphy said. "The Gray family has been put through real hell," he added.
"Freddie was taken too early and too horrifically, and the worst of the Gray family days in the history of this family have been the last three weeks," Murphy said. But "today has given the Gray family a measure of hope," he said.
Murphy said people should realize that the charges are the "first step not the last," and that the family is seeking justice and is not blindly calling for guilty verdicts. "We haven't said we believe these officers are guilty. We’ve said that we want justice, and justice means following the true facts wherever they lead," he said.
Hundreds of demonstrators celebrated the charges in front of City Hall and near a CVS pharmacy that was burned during unrest this week. Another protest was scheduled for Saturday.
Referring to looting that occurred this week, Shipley said, “the last thing Freddie would want would be to see the hardworking people of Baltimore lose their jobs and businesses because of his death."
"Remember, without justice there is no peace. But let us have peace in the pursuit of justice," Shipley said.
- 'Stunning': Prosecutor in Freddie Gray Case Acted Quickly
- Freddie Gray Death: Prosecutor Mosby Lays Out Chain of Events During Arrest
- Officers Charged in Freddie Gray's Death 'Did Nothing Wrong': Attorney
— Elisha Fieldstadt