Freddie Gray Officers Charged: What Depraved Heart Murder Means

The top charge against a Baltimore police officer is for "a callous disregard for the value of human life."

The most serious charge against one of the Baltimore officers accused in the death of Freddie Gray is one many Americans likely have not heard of: depraved heart murder.

The Legal Information Institute, a research group housed at Cornell University Law School, defines the charge this way: "Killing someone in a way that demonstrates a callous disregard for the value of human life. For example, if a person intentionally fires a gun into a crowded room, and someone dies, the person could be convicted of depraved heart murder."

Officer Caesar Goodson, Jr., who drove the police van that brought Gray to a police station, is charged with second-degree depraved heart murder.

He is accused of failing to get medical help for Gray and failing to secure him with a seat belt inside the van. At one point, he drove to help with another arrest instead of providing medical help to Gray, Baltimore City State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said.

"Despite Mr. Gray’s obvious and recognized need for medical assistance, Officer Goodson in a grossly negligent manner chose to respond to the 1600 block of West North Avenue with Mr. Gray still unsecured by a seat belt in the wagon without rendering to or summonsing medical assistant for Mr. Gray," Mosby said.

Five other officers — Officer William Porter, Lt. Brian Rice, Officer Edward Nero, Garrett Miller and Sgt. Alicia White — also face charges. Those range from involuntary manslaughter to misconduct in office and false imprisonment.

A lawyer for some of the officers accused Mosby of a rush to judgment.

"The officers did nothing wrong," the lawyer, Michael Davey, said Friday. "These injuries did not occur as a result of any action or inaction on the part of these officers."

Contact Us