Freddie Gray: New lead over police van journey

BBC News

Anthony Batts and another officer approach the microphone
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts did not give details of the report or take questions at a news conference on Thursday

Police in Baltimore say that officers transporting Freddie Gray in a van made a previously undisclosed stop while en route to the police station.

Gray suffered fatal and unexplained spinal injuries while in police custody, sparking two weeks of protests in the city that turned violent earlier this week.

On Thursday evening, there were rallies in Baltimore and in Philadelphia.

Police said they found out about the new van stop from a security camera.

“We discovered this new stop based on our thorough and comprehensive and on-going review of all CCTV cameras and privately-owned cameras,” Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said.

“This new stop was discovered from a privately owned camera.”

The Associated Press reports that the new video came from a Korean grocery shop.

Investigators have handed over their inquiry into Gray’s death to the state’s attorney’s office.

The city’s top prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, will now decide whether to take the case to a grand jury to seek an indictment of any of the six officers involved.

National Guardsmen patrol the inner harbour area
Members of the National Guard have been on patrol in the city since riots broke out on Monday
A man walks past a burning police vehicle
Various police vehicles were set alight during the riots

Gray was injured when arrested in Sandtown on 12 April. He lapsed into a coma and died a week later.

Mobile phone video from a bystander shows two officers dragging Gray into the van by the arms.

According to the police timeline of the arrest, the van took 30 minutes to take him to the police station, where paramedics were called.

While in the van, Gray was requesting medical attention which he was wrongly denied, police have admitted.

They also acknowledged that he was not secured in the van by a seatbelt, which contravenes department policy.

Previously, police had said the van made three stops, including one to put him in leg irons and another to pick up another prisoner. The new stop makes four in total.

Five of the six officers involved in the arrest gave statements to investigators the day Gray was injured. All six have been suspended.

A separate investigation by the US Department of Justice is also under way.

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Police timeline of Freddie Gray’s arrest

Family photo of Freddie Gray
  • Sunday, 12 April, 0839: Officers approach Gray and he flees on foot
  • 0840: Gray arrested on corner of Presbury Street, Sandtown
  • 0842: Police request a van
  • 0854: Van departs with Gray inside, conscious and speaking
  • 0854-0924: Van makes a total of four stops between arrest and police station arrival
  • 0924: Police request paramedics to take Gray to hospital

Freddie Gray’s death in police custody – what we know

Protests in Baltimore

An investigation is under way into the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died in hospital from spinal injuries a week after police took him into custody. But what do we know about what happened that day in Baltimore?

THE ARREST

Mobile phone video from a bystander shows Gray’s arrest on 12 April around 08:40 local time (13:40 BST), on Presbury Street in the Sandtown neighbourhood of the city.

Two men in yellow uniforms with “Baltimore Police” labels are seen pinning the black man to the ground.

A court document says that Gray had “fled unprovoked upon noticing police presence”. It also said that Gray “was arrested without force or incident”.

Gray's family say he was beaten
Gray’s family say he was beaten
Block of Presbury St

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said it is not clear why Gray was stopped by police but officers “made eye contact” with Gray and the other man before the pair took off. “There is no law against running,” he added.

Billy Murphy, a lawyer hired by the Gray family, believes the officers had no reason to stop Gray. “Running while black is not probable cause,” he said.

The document says that the officer found a “knife clipped to the inside of his front right pants pocket”. It goes on to say that it was a switchblade, a type of spring-loaded knife that is illegal to possess in Baltimore.

THE POLICE VAN

An informal memorial appeared near the police station
An informal memorial appeared near the police station

In the mobile phone video, Gray can be heard screaming repeatedly before a police van arrives to take him away.

Later, two officers can be seen carrying Gray into the van by the arms. Gray’s body appears limp – whether that was a deliberate protest on the part of Gray or because of a medical condition, is not clear.

While the van was en route to the police station, officers put Gray in leg irons after an officer determined that he became “irate”.

Gray was not buckled into the van, which is a violation of police department policy.

Police have also admitted that the van stopped to pick up another suspect in a separate case while on the way to the police station. This stop was done despite repeated requests for medical attention by Gray.

“He asked for an inhaler, and at one or two stops it was noticed that he was having trouble breathing and we probably should have asked for paramedics,” Mr Batts said.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has questioned why it took so long to get medical help.

Days later, police officials said at a press conference that Gray should have received medical attention before he was put inside the van.

At that same press conference, Mr Batts said it was possible that Gray was injured before the van ride, but he also said it was possible that Gray experienced a “rough ride”.

Police subsequently admitted there was another police stop, previously undisclosed, snapped on a private security camera.

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Police timeline of the arrest

  • Sunday, 12 April, 0839: Officers approach Gray and he flees on foot
  • 0840: Gray arrested on corner of Presbury Street, Sandtown
  • 0842: Police request a van
  • 0854: Van departs with Gray inside, conscious and speaking
  • 0854-0924: Van makes a total of four stops between arrest and police station arrival
  • 0924: Police request paramedics to take Gray to hospital
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THE INJURIES

Officer Miller’s document says that Gray “suffered a medical emergency” while he was being transported in the van and that he was “immediately transported to Shock Trauma via medic”. He arrived in a critical condition.

Briefing the media on the results of an autopsy on Monday, Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said Gray “did suffer a very tragic injury to his spinal cord which resulted in his death”.

Mr Murphy said that Gray’s “spine was 80% severed at his neck”.

Where and when that injury was sustained is not clear.

Police officer in Sandtown
Police officer in Sandtown

A suspect who was also in the van with Gray was on another side of a metal barrier preventing him from seeing or making contact with Gray, Mr Rodriguez said.

“I know that when Mr Gray was placed inside that van, he was able to talk, he was upset,” Mr Rodriguez said. “And when Mr Gray was taken out of that van he could not talk and he could not breath.”

Gray’s family told the Baltimore Sun newspaper that doctors at a local hospital performed surgeries to treat three broken vertebrae and an injured voice box. He was comatose until his death on Sunday.

The paper reported on Tuesday that “significant force” would be required to inflict those injuries. It said, citing medical experts, that the force would be similar to that of “the impact from a car accident”.

THE FALLOUT

Man on a bike in front of a police line
Near-daily protests have taken place, and some have turned violent

Baltimore’s top law enforcement officials, the mayor and the prosecutor have sought to maintain calm as the investigation takes place.

Officials have suspended six police officers who were involved in the case.

Demonstrators have taken to the streets to protest against excessive use of force. In early days, most of the protests were calm. Many carried banners, some of which read “Black lives matter” – an echo of similar protests around the country in recent months.

But a week after Gray died, and with police releasing little new information about the circumstances of his death, the demonstrations took a violent turn.

On 27 April, a funeral service for Gray was held. That afternoon and evening rioters tore through parts of Baltimore leaving a path of debris, burnt or smashed cars, and looted storefronts.

The National Guard was dispatched in an attempt to restore control and the mayor ordered a curfew between the hours of 2200 and 0500.

Mr Rodriguez said his investigators will turn everything over to the state’s law office by 1 May.

 

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