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Sgt. Alicia White, officer charged in Freddie Gray case, tells her story

Posted: 11:01 PM, Nov 17, 2016
Updated: 2018-12-31 22:14:39Z
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Sgt. Alicia White has been back in uniform for a little more than three months.

It's an administrative role as she waits for an internal review to clear her from a charge delivered 18 months ago by Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.

White was one of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured while in Baltimore Police custody. His death sparked rioting and unrest in the city.

Days later, when the state's attorney read the charges on the steps of the Baltimore War Memorial on national television, White was surprised to hear her name.

“I felt blindsided,” White said. “I didn't see that coming at all. I was devastated. I broke down and started crying. It was hard, it was a hard pill to swallow."

In her first televised interview, White is breaking her silence to tell her story. She is the first of the six officers accused in Gray’s death to speak out publicly.

While the charges in the case have been dropped, the internal investigation still prevents her from talking about what she saw when the police transport van carrying Gray made its fifth stop on April 12, 2015 or what she did to help Gray at stop six.

White said she didn't know Gray. She was working her third month as a newly minted sergeant in Baltimore’s western district that day.

Even though she didn’t know the young man, White said she prayed for Gray’s family as she watched them struggle with loss. She also extended prayers for the city she calls home as she watched it devolve into riots.

"You know, that loss, the loss of his life, the loss of seeing property destroyed...that hurt to have to watch that, or to see it unravel, because like I said this is, it's not like I am from somewhere else and came to Baltimore. This is home," White said.

White was born and raised in Northwest Baltimore. She worships on North Carey Street in the Western District.

Her church is blocks away from where Gray was arrested that April day, and where his legacy still lingers on murals and on vacant homes. Signs of that day and what followed can also been seen on her own face in her mug shot. That mug shot is the picture that, through the last year and a half, has come to define her public image.

"I knew even seeing it myself that that wasn’t who I was. Having to walk and people look at you and figure that's who you are, I knew that wasn’t me,” she said.

And she wants the community to understand that, too.

“That I am not that officer that was seen on TV. Even in walking the streets while I was in this area I think that if you were to ask people that knew me they would say, that wasn’t that officer,” she said.

The last 18 months took its toll on White physically and emotionally.

Charged with the felony of manslaughter, she wasn’t getting paid for more than a year, and the stress derailed a career and life she felt was just getting started.

"It was a lot ya know? The responsibilities that I may have had, I no longer could do those things. I had to depend on my family a lot for financial support. I was currently engaged and my engagement is now over. So that was hard. It was an emotionally hard thing for me this year,” she said.

Still, she leans on her faith and her desire to serve.

After the criminal charges against her were dropped, she is waiting for the green light from the police department to serve again.

"That doesn’t deter me from what I signed up for in 2010. It's about protection, service and being able to give back. Like I said, I'm from Baltimore. This is home for me so to be able to continue to help serve the community in which I grew up in, that's important to me,” White said.

She explained it’s more than a job. It’s her calling.

White always hoped she could return to her career as a police officer. She remains steadfast in her innocence, hoping for the chance to clear her name from that charge leveled 18 months ago.

"Everyone at the end of the day has a job to do and on that particular day when she stood on the War Memorial – she had a job to do,” White said of Mosby. “Those decisions that she came up with is something that she has to, ya know, live with."