The president of the Baltimore police union on Thursday said that criminals have become "empowered" following the recent unrest and that, with six officers charged in Freddie Gray's death, city police are more "afraid" of being arrested than shot on duty, reports the Baltimore Sun.
Gray, 25, died a week after suffering a severed spinal cord and other injuries in police custody. His death led to more than a week of protests and later rioting, that prompted a citywide curfew and the deployment of the National Guard.
"The criminals are taking advantage of the situation in Baltimore since the unrest," said Gene Ryan, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3. "Criminals feel empowered now. There is no respect. Police are under siege in every quarter. They are more afraid of going to jail for doing their jobs properly than they are of getting shot on duty."
The union released the statement on Twitter a day after the officers charged in Gray's death filed a motion to have the trial moved out of Baltimore. Police commissioner Anthony W. Batts apologized to the union Monday night for putting officers in harm's way.
Ryan said Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who charged the six officers, had "essentially overturned" Illinois v. Wardlow, a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling. In that case, it was ruled that two Chicago police officers who chased a man in a known drug area and found a handgun in his bag did not violate the fourth amendment.