Baltimore police have released videos showing the arrest of Freddie Gray who died after his spine was nearly severed while in police custody.
But none of them captured what happened inside the van where an arresting officer said he suffered a “medical emergency.”
Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez says the officers involved have been suspended, and the autopsy shows that Freddie Gray “did suffer a significant spinal injury that led to his death.”
Rodriguez said that a week later, investigators don’t yet have any evidence showing what caused that injury.
The commissioner says that “when Mr. Gray was put in that van, he could talk, he was upset, and when he was taken out of that van, he could not talk and he could not breathe.”
City Councilman Brandon Scott told Maryland’s News Now that the news conference left plenty of unanswered questions.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake vowed to provide the community with all the answers.
Police Commissioner Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said he is ordering that police review and rewrite “effective immediately” its policies on moving prisoners and providing them with medical attention.
“We are a community on edge right now. We hear, I hear, the outrage. I hear the concern and I hear the fear,” Batts said, asking for calm. “We are on edge as a city, and I need your help to make sure we get this out in the proper way.”
All six officers involved have been suspended, said Rodriguez, who is in charge of the department’s professional standards and accountability.
Officer Garrett Miller’s official request for a criminal charge against Gray, a 25-year-old black man who was only 5-foot-8 inches tall and 145 pounds, said that he had been arrested “without force or incident.”
Miller sought a charge of carrying a switchblade, punishable by a year in prison and a $500 fine, according to court records obtained Monday by The Associated Press.
Miller’s charging document doesn’t provide any explanations for the injuries that would lead to Gray’s death a week later. He wrote only that while being taken to the station, on April 12, “the defendant suffered a medical emergency and was immediately transported to Shock Trauma via medic.”
Another 30 minutes passed before police finally called an ambulance to pick Gray up at the station. He arrived at the hospital in critical condition and died on Sunday after a weeklong coma.
The documents, which misspell Gray’s name as “Grey,” were first reported Monday by The Baltimore Sun. Police had not previously mentioned a knife, or publicly disclosed the charge against Gray.
Miller’s signed report says he personally recovered the knife from Gray’s pocket. It names five other officers to be summoned as witnesses in court, and says Gray was stopped after a brief foot chase because he “fled unprovoked upon noticing police presence.”
The Gray family’s attorney, Billy Murphy, disputed the police timeline and said the injuries Gray suffered while in police custody were fatal. “His spine was 80 percent severed at his neck,” Murphy said.
“We have no confidence that the city or the police department is going to fairly and objectively investigate this case,” Murphy added.
Activists protesting excessive use of force and even Baltimore city officials say they have more questions than answers. About 50 people marched from City Hall to police headquarters Monday, carrying signs reading “Black lives matter” and “Jobs, not police killings.” They unfurled a yellow banner reading “Stop police terror.”
“This is just one of the most egregious cases I’ve ever seen,” said Colleen Davidson of the Baltimore People’s Power Assembly, which she said organized the rally at the request of Gray’s family. “We felt the need to be out here and make it known that we will not stand and watch things like this happen.”
Rodriguez said his investigators will hand everything they find over to the office of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby by May 1. She too appealed Monday for anyone with information to contact her office.
“I can assure the public that my office has dedicated all its existing resources to independently investigate this matter to determine whether criminal charges will be brought,” Mosby said.
Earlier, police said in court documents that a man who died after his spine was nearly severed while in custody had been arrested “without force or incident.”
The officers asked that 25-year-old Freddie Gray be charged with carrying a switchblade, punishable by a year in jail and a $500 fine.
Police also said Gray suffered an unexplained “medical emergency” while in a police van and was immediately taken to a hospital for treatment.
That contradicts the official police timeline, which says an ambulance was called to the police station nearly 45 minutes after his arrest. He died a week later.
The police documents also misspell Gray’s name as “Grey.”
Relatives, activists and even Baltimore city officials have more questions than answers about what happened to Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died one week after he was rushed to the hospital with spinal injuries following an encounter with four Baltimore police officers.
Gray, who died Sunday morning at the University of Maryland R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, was stopped by Baltimore Police Department officers on bike patrol April 12. Police have said Gray was running away from the officers when he was arrested and placed in a transport van. Police say roughly 30 minutes later, Gray was rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
Billy Murphy, an attorney for Gray’s family, said Sunday that 80 percent of the man’s spinal cord had been severed near his neck.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and top police officials promised accountability and transparency Sunday at a news conference at City Hall.
“How was Mr. Gray injured? Were the proper protocols and procedures actually followed? What are the next steps to take from here?” Rawlings-Blake said.
She promised a thorough investigation and “real answers” for the community.
“I will ensure we will hold the right people accountable,” Rawlings-Blake said.
Gray’s family has declined, so far, to interact with police, said Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. He said the department would try again this week to share information with them.
“A mother has lost her son,” Batts said. “Freddie Gray passed. My greatest hope and wish and desire is that any time we have an interaction as a police department or a contact, that everyone goes home safe.”
Batts said he is assembling a “hybrid task force” that will include homicide investigators and the force investigation team.
Officers and other witnesses have been interviewed, according to Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez. However, not everyone has been interviewed, Rodriguez noted, saying the officers who are subjects of the criminal investigation have a right not to potentially incriminate themselves.
But Murphy said he has interviewed 11 witnesses as part of an investigation on behalf of the Gray family, and has asked the department for video footage, which it has declined to release to the public. Murphy said he disputes the department’s timeline of events, and believes Gray was in police custody for longer than they say.
“We are tired of the words. We want to see action,” Murphy said Sunday. “We want to see fair compensation for victims of police brutality, we want to see a fair response and an impartial investigation not cops investigating themselves.
“We have no confidence that the city or the police department is going to fairly and objectively investigate this case,” Murphy added. “We have no confidence the investigation will reveal the truth.”
Meanwhile, Baltimore’s activist community on Sunday called for increased transparency and accountability of the city’s police department, which last year volunteered for a Justice Department review of its policies and procedures.
Outside of the Western District station house, where Gray was brought after his arrest and before officers called for medical assistance, Cortly “C.D.” Witherspoon, president of the Baltimore chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, called Baltimore a “police state” where criminalization of African American men is a pervasive problem. Witherspoon called for action, and an independent investigation into Gray’s death.
“They want the citizenry to be patient. They want the citizenry to let the investigation play out,” Witherspoon said. “We can’t do that. There has never been honest and genuine conversation with the police department and the people on the ground. We want an independent investigation. We want the officers fired, we want them stripped of their pension and we want them charged.”
On Sunday afternoon, Billy Murphy, Jr., an attorney representing Freddie Gray’s family issued the following statement:
On last Sunday morning at about 8am, the police chased Freddie Gray, a 27 year old healthy man, without any evidence he had committed a crime. His take-down and arrest without probable cause occurred under a police video camera, which taped everything including the police dragging and throwing Freddy into a police vehicle while he screamed in pain. While in police custody, his spine was 80 percent severed at his neck. He lapsed into a coma, died, was resuscitated, stayed in a coma and on Monday, underwent extensive surgery at Shock Trauma to save his life. He clung to life for seven days and died today at approximately 7am. We believe the police are keeping the circumstances of Freddie’s death secret until they develop a version of events that will absolve them of all responsibility. However, his family and the citizens of Baltimore deserve to know the real truth; and we will not stop until we get justice for Freddie.
William “Billy” Murphy Jr.
MURPHY,FALCON, & MURPHY
Gray fled on foot and was captured on April 12 after an officer “made eye contact” with him outside a public housing complex, police said. Videos show Gray screaming on the ground before being dragged, his legs limp, into a van. Witnesses said he was crying out in pain.
Kevin Moore, a friend of Freddie Gray’s who recorded video of his arrest, told The Baltimore Sun that police had Gray’s legs bent “like he was a crab or a piece of origami.”
Police procedures require officers to get immediate medical help if detainees need it, and to avoid aggravating any injury.
In Gray’s case, he repeatedly asked for help during the trip, but the driver instead diverted to another location to pick up another prisoner. Officers repeatedly ignored Gray’s requests for medical attention before he was hospitalized in critical condition. “He asked for an inhaler, and at one or two of the stops it was noticed that he was having trouble breathing
Gray suffered a spinal injury prior to being placed in that van. He was limp as they drug him across the street. His legs were limp and they drug the tops of his feet on the road. Each officer had him under the arms by the armpits and his head was tilted. He probably suffered the initial injury and, perhaps, a small portion of transection of the cord in the initial beat down, and then when they threw him into the van and it was as rough as described, that would and could result in the 80% cord transection which would lead to a rapid loss of blood pressure.
One of more of those cops violently knocked or threw him to the ground. Then they piled on him like they always do, smashing his head into sidewalk and sitting on him with their full weight. This is why he’s already injured before they dragged him up and across to the van, shoved him in there, didn’t secure him in any way, gave him a nickel ride, then dragged him out of the van again at another location and put leg restraints on him (this is documented on video as well) and dumped him back in there.
May 2, 2015
Six Baltimore police officers charged in Freddie Gray’s death
despread outrage over the death of Freddie Gray gave way to impromptu celebrations Friday after Baltimore’s chief prosecutor filed criminal charges against the six police officers who arrested him, drove him to a police station and ignored his pleas for medical help.
State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby charged the driver of the van with second-degree murder and the other officers with offenses that included involuntary manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, second-degree assault, false imprisonment and misconduct in office. The officers were taken into custody Friday and released on bail.
“These charges are an important step in getting justice for Freddie,” said Richard Shipley, stepfather of the 25-year-old Gray, who died April 19, one week after he was injured in police custody.
Mosby’s conclusion that Gray had been illegally arrested and suffered a spinal injury while unrestrained in a police transport wagon led to joyous outbursts in many parts of a city that has been under heavy police and National Guard watch and a 10 p.m. curfew following Monday’s rioting.
After weeks of tension and occasional violence, it felt as if many exhaled in relief Friday. Gray had become the focus of massive demonstrations, here and in other cities, as the latest in a string of African-American men who died during confrontations with police.
The case stood in stark contrast to others across the nation in which police officers were cleared of wrongdoing in the deaths of black men. Grand juries declined to indict the officer who put a chokehold on Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., or the officer who fatally shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.
Baltimore’s police union president, Gene Ryan, said none of the officers charged are responsible for Gray’s death. Michael E. Davey, an attorney who works with the union and is representing one of the officers, decried what he called an “egregious rush to judgment.”
Meanwhile, Gray’s family continued to implore protesters, who are expected to march Saturday in a previously scheduled rally, to remain peaceful.
“Whoever comes to our city — a city that we love, a city that we live in — come in peace. If you are not coming in peace, please don’t come at all,” said Shipley, accompanied at a news conference by Gray’s mother, Gloria Darden; his father, Freddie Gray Sr.; and twin sister, Fredericka.
“This city needs to get back to work. The last thing that Freddie would want is to see the hardworking people of Baltimore lose their jobs and businesses because of this.”
City officials had warned residents not to expect the conclusion of a police investigation Thursday to immediately lead to an announcement on whether officers would be charged. They feared that dashed hopes could lead to more violence.
But on the steps of the War Memorial Building on Friday, Mosby said the police findings were not new to her and that she had been working on her own investigation.
Her conclusion: “The manner of death deemed a homicide by the State Medical Examiner is believed to be the result of a fatal injury that occurred while Mr. Gray was unrestrained by a seatbelt in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department wagon.”
Baltimoreans watched Mosby’s announcement live on TV. In neighborhoods previously filled with chanting demonstrators, cheers rang out and car horns honked.
On East Lorraine Avenue in Harwood, where Freddie Gray lived with his mother and sisters, someone played a radio airing a continuous loop of Mosby reading the charges.
At Gilmor Homes, where Gray spent his last moments of freedom, young men remembered “a friend we ain’t never going to be able to replace,” as lifelong friend Rontee Jenkins, 26, put it.
Yet the tears shed by Jenkins, who helped carry Gray’s casket at his funeral on Monday, were of joy.
“I want my friend not to go in vain,” he said.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake ordered the officers suspended without pay.
“To those of you who want to engage in brutality, misconduct, racism and corruption, let me be clear: There is no place for you in the Baltimore City Police Department,” she said in a brief appearance at City Hall.
President Barack Obama said, “It is absolutely vital that the truth comes out on what happened to Freddie Gray.
“It is my practice not to comment on the legal processes involved. That would not be appropriate.
“But I can tell you that justice needs to be served. All the evidence needs to be presented,” he said. “What I think the people of Baltimore want more than anything else is the truth. … That’s what people around the country expect.”
Under gray skies, Mosby read a probable-cause statement, the basis for arresting the officers, in an even voice as traffic occasionally rumbled past on Fayette Street. Although the outlines of Gray’s arrest and transport were widely known, her recitation of a fuller narrative proved riveting.
Two of her repeated themes: that the handcuffed and leg-shackled Gray was never secured by a seatbelt in the police wagon against police policy, and that officers ignored repeated appeals for medical help from Gray.
Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., the driver of the van, was charged with second-degree murder, three counts of manslaughter and assault. Lt. Brian W. Rice was charged with manslaughter, assault and false imprisonment. Sgt. Alicia D. White and Officer William G. Porter were charged with manslaughter and assault. Officers Garrett E. Miller and Edward M. Nero were charged with assault and false imprisonment. All were charged with misconduct in office.
The arrest on the morning of April 12 began when Rice made eye contact with Gray near the corner of North Avenue and Mount Street. Gray ran, and Rice, along with Miller and Nero chased him.
Gray surrendered in the 1700 block of Presbury St., where Mosby said “he was placed in a prone position, with his hands handcuffed behind his back.” It was there that Gray first asked for and was denied medical care, she said.
“It was at this time that Mr. Gray indicated that he could not breathe and requested an inhaler to no avail,” she said.
Officers discovered he had a knife with its blade folded into the handle, she said. It wasn’t a switchblade but a legal implement.
Having failed to establish probable cause, Mosby said the officers’ arrest of Gray was illegal.
And then began the van ride, which stopped four times for various reasons, as the unrestrained Gray injured his neck and his condition deteriorated.
Goodson, who was driving the van, made his first stop on Baker Street, where Gray was removed by the three officers who had arrested him, Mosby said. They put flex cuffs on his wrists, leg shackles on his ankles and “completed required paperwork,” Mosby said. Then they put Gray back into the wagon, on his stomach on the floor.
It was during the next segment of the drive that Gray was injured, Mosby said. She did not say whether the driver took him on a so-called “rough ride,” in which officers intentionally drive erratically, causing shackled passengers to bounce helplessly against the walls of the van.
The driver, Goodson, made a second stop near Mosher Street and Fremont Avenue, where Mosby said he parked and walked to the back of the wagon to check on Gray. But “at no point did he seek nor did he render any medical assistance for Mr. Gray,” she said, and he resumed his course toward Central Booking.
Several blocks later, Goodson called dispatch, saying that “he needed to check” on Gray and requested additional units to meet him at Dolphin Street and Druid Hill Avenue, Mosby said. There, he and the responding officer, Porter, checked on Gray, she said.
“Mr. Gray at that time requested help and indicated that he could not breathe,” Mosby said. “Officer Porter asked Mr. Gray if he needed a medic, at which time Mr. Gray indicated at least twice that he was in need of a medic.”
Porter helped Gray onto a bench, but she said neither officer put a seatbelt on him or called for medical help. Rather, Mosby said, the officers heard a request for units to help with an arrest on West North Avenue, and Porter responded, followed by Goodson driving the van with Gray still in it.
On North Avenue, the fourth stop, Goodson was met by the other officers as well as White, who was investigating two citizen complaints about Gray’s arrest, Mosby said.
The officers “found Gray unresponsive on the floor of the wagon,” she said.
“Sgt. White … spoke to the back of Mr. Gray’s head,” Mosby said. “When he did not respond, she did nothing further despite the fact that she was advised that he needed a medic.
“She made no effort to look or assess or determine his condition,” Mosby said. “Despite Mr. Gray’s seriously deteriorating medical condition, no medical assistance was rendered or summoned for Mr. Gray at that time by any officer.”
The officers put the new suspect in the opposite side of the wagon, and Goodson drove to the Western District police station, she said. They took that suspect in before dealing with Gray, who by then was not breathing.
“A medic was finally called to the scene, where upon arrival the medic determined that Mr. Gray was in cardiac arrest and was critically and severely injured,” Mosby said.
He was rushed to University of Maryland Shock Trauma where he underwent surgery, but died a week later.
On Friday, the six officers were processed at the Central Booking and Intake Center, where Gray was initially headed after his arrest.
At a news conference at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, which is devoted to African-American history, Gray’s family made a brief appearance and their lawyer asked that they be allowed to continue grieving privately.
“Freddie was taken too early and too horrifically,” said lawyer William H. “Billy” Murphy Jr., who represents the Gray family.
Mosby, who says her family boasts five generations of law enforcement officers, insisted that “the charges are not an indictment of the entire police force.”
Union officials asked that Mosby appoint an independent prosecutor. They said her ties to Murphy, a campaign contributor and member of her transition team, and her marriage to Nick Mosby, the city councilman who represents the area where Gray was arrested, constituted a conflict of interest.
UPDATE April 2016 Baltimore agreed to pay $6.4 million to the family of Freddie Gray. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/freddie-gray/bs-md-ci-boe-20150908-story.html