Washington, May 1: US President Barack Obama said today it was "absolutely vital" that the truth come out about the death of an African American man in Baltimore from injuries sustained while in police custody, after six officers were charged.
"It is absolutely vital that the truth comes out on what happened to Freddie Gray," Obama said at the White House after the dramatic revelation of the charges, which include second-degree murder and manslaughter.
"Justice needs to be served. All the evidence needs to be presented," Obama said, while noting he had not yet seen the specific charges filed and would not comment on the particulars of the case.
"What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth. That's what people around the country expect," he said. [Things to know about Baltimore riots in US]
Six policemen charged
Six members of the Baltimore City Police Department will face charges for the death in custody of black man Freddie Gray, the prosecutor handling the case said.
Maryland state prosecutor announced criminal charges against all officers involved in the death of the 25-year-old black man Gray, reports Efe.
The state's attorney for Baltimore City Marilyn Mosby said that the arrest of Gray, who died on April 19 of a deadly spinal cord injury, was "illegally" and that the state medical examiner ruled Gray's death a homicide.
The spinal injury that led to his death was caused while he was riding in a police van, during which he was not buckled, Mosby said in a press conference.
Police officers also had no probable reason for Gray's arrest at the first place, said Mosby, adding that a knife found in Gray' s pocket was not an illegal switchblade.
"Gray suffered a severe and critical neck injury as a result of being handcuffed, shackled by his feet and unrestrained inside of the BPD (Baltimore Police Department) wagon," she said. "We have probable cause to file criminal charges."
Mosby also said the six police officers ignored Gray's pleading for medical care at least on two occasions during transportation.
The driver of the police van was charged with second-degree murder while the other five officers were charged with crimes including assault, manslaughter and false imprisonment, the prosecutor said.
The announcement from the state prosecutor came unexpected as Baltimore officials, including both Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, tried to play down public expectation that any charges against the six police officers would be presented Friday.
The city of Baltimore has witnessed a widespread of protests, sometimes-uncontrolled ones, in the past 10 days due to the death of Gray.
Meanwhile, Mosby called on the public to remain calm, as the city was still healing from Monday's widespread unrest hours after Gray's funeral. According to Baltimore police department, 144 cars were set ablaze, 15 structures on fire and 200 rioters were arrested in Monday's riot.
"I heard your call for 'no justice, no peace,'" Mosby said. " Your peace is sincerely needed as I work to deliver justice on behalf of this young man."