Following the verdict in the second of several trials related to the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, Amnesty International USA called for widespread reform of laws governing the use of lethal force by police.
“The courts are an important component of seeking accountability for the tragic death of Freddie Gray, but there is still a critical need to reform laws related to lethal force by police across the country,” said Jamira Burley, senior campaigner with Amnesty International USA.
“Lives are at stake. All states must bring lethal force laws in line with international standards that require that such force should be used only as a last resort.”
AIUSA also expressed concern for the protection of peaceful protesters following the verdict.
“A year after Freddie Gray’s death, emotions in this case are understandably still high. Police have a duty to protect those who peacefully exercise their right to be heard. In the event of any violence, police must not use the acts of a few to repress the rights of a peaceful majority while protecting themselves and the public. As we have seen, militarized responses only aggravate the situation and place everyone at risk,” said Burley.
As part of the Baltimore-based Campaign for Jobs, Safety and Justice, Amnesty International USA has worked this past year on state-level reforms such as the passage of HB 1016, but much larger reform is still needed.
As a matter of organizational policy, Amnesty International does not comment on jury decisions.
Last year, Amnesty International issued a report that found that all 50 states failed to meet international standards regarding lethal force by police. Maryland is one of nine states that has not enacted a use of lethal force statute. The report called for reforms at the state and federal level to bring police practices into compliance with international standards, and to officially collect and publish national statistics on the use of force by police.