Baltimore: Freddie Gray’s Neck Snapped While in Back of Police Van
Freddie Gray’s neck was snapped while he was riding in a Baltimore police van, a local TV station reported Thursday.
Citing sources, WJLA-TV and said the Medical Examiner found that Gray’s “catastrophic injury” happened when he slammed into the back of the van and that “a head injury he sustained matches a bolt in the back of the van.”
The report came after Baltimore police revealed that the van Gray had been riding in made a suspicious and previously unreported stop — and after the department turned over the results of their probe to a state prosecutor.
Bruce Goldfarb, spokesman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore, would neither confirm nor deny the WJLA-TV report. “We can’t discuss the investigation,” he said.
But if true, it would be the first confirmation that Gray died on April 19 of injuries sustained while in police custody.
Since then, Baltimore has seen both violent riots and peaceful protests by frustrated residents demanding justice for the 25-year-old African-American victim. There were more protests Thursday and among those marching was Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.
In previous nights, hundreds were arrested in clashes that left more than 90 officers have been hurt, half of whom required hospitalization, officials said.
A Baltimore TV station identified the other prisoner who was reportedly in the van as 22-year-old Donta Allen, who denied telling cops he heard Gray trying to injure himself.
“I understand the frustration, I understand the sense of urgency,” Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that the highest-ranking officer involved in Gray’s arrest was hospitalized three years ago for mental issues and had his guns confiscated, an arsenal that included an AK-47 type rifle and two shotguns.
Lt. Brian Rice declared he “could not go on like this” in documents obtained by the AP, which also reported that he was hit with administrative suspensions in 2012 and 2013.
Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said they learned of the mysterious van stop after reviewing footage from a privately owned camera. He said at a subsequent stop police loaded another male prisoner into the van.
That man told investigators Gray was “still moving around, that he was kicking and making noises,” said Batts.
Another Baltimore TV station, WBAL, identified that prisoner as 22-year-old Donta Allen. He denied telling cops anything and said he had no idea Gray was also in the van because they were separated by a metal divider.
“All I heard was a little banging for about four seconds,” he said. “I just heard little banging, just little banging.”
Batts did not address a Washington Post account — citing a leaked police report and presumably quoting Allen — which claimed Gray “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”
Baltimore police are pictured arresting Freddie Gray.
Gray was “banging against the walls” of the van, the story said.
“We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord,” Jason Downs, a lawyer for the Gray family, said in response to that report.
Gray had been arrested numerous times before, mostly for minor drug-related offenses, police said.
Police have not fully explained why Rice and the other officers chased Gray after making “eye contact” with him and another man at 8:39 a.m. on April 12 at the intersection of W. North Ave. and N. Mount St. in the tough West Baltimore neighborhood.
But the four officers pursuing Gray were on bicycles and needed just a minute to catch him. They were videotaped dragging him to the police van.
They also refused Gray’s request for an inhale before loading him into the van at 8:42 a.m. and taking off for the West District precinct.
Four minutes later, police pulled over and placed Gray in leg cuffs after he grew “irate.”
The next stop was recorded by the private camera and police did not explain why the van pulled over or give an exact time or location.
It was 8:59 a.m. when the van stopped a third time and this time the driver asked for an additional unit to check on Gray, police said.
Minutes later, the van stopped a fourth time to pick up the other prisoner.
It wasn’t until 9:26 a.m. that paramedics were summoned to the precinct to transport “an unconscious male” to the hospital, police said.
It will be up to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to decide whether to prosecute any of the six Baltimore cops involved in Gray’s arrest.
We have been briefed regularly throughout their process while simultaneously conducting our own independent investigation,” Mosby said in a statement.
Rice and the other officers have already been suspended for failing to get him medical help in a timely manner.
“Whatever time the state’s attorney’s office needs to make that determination, the family wants to get it right,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.
Later, Rawlings-Blake joined the Rev. Al Sharpton and the head of the NAACP at a summit aimed at defusing the crisis. Also there was the mother of NYPD chokehold victim Eric Garner.
“If, with the nation watching, three black women at three different levels can’t get justice and healing for this community, you tell me where we’re going to get it in our country,” Rawlings-Blake said, referring to herself, Mosby and newly sworn in Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who is overseeing the Justice Department investigation.
Source: New York Daily News