As angry protests continue in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, city officials have released more information surrounding the 25-year-old’s death—while they have suspended with pay the six police officers involved in his death during the ongoing investigation.
But though there are now more details available, officials still claim they don’t know how Gray’s spine was severed while he was in police custody.
Gray’s lawyer, Billy Murphy, believes the police still have many questions to answer—most notably, why did they stop Gray in the first place?
“They’ve made concessions on lack of probable cause,” Murphy said. “Running while black is not probable cause. Felony running doesn’t exist, and you can’t arrest someone for looking you in the eye. You have to believe he committed a crime and have an objective basis for that belief. They had none of that.”
The new details that have emerged in the case indicate that after police “made eye contact” with Gray and another man on April 12, the two men started running. Officers chased and tackled Gray before placing him in a police van. Gray was placed in leg irons in the back of the van after an officer felt he was becoming “irate.” There was also another prisoner in the van who had been picked up in an unrelated case. Gray asked for medical attention several times, according to police, but didn’t receive it until he was taken to the hospital.
Gray, who apparently had asthma, asked for his inhaler, which he did not have with him.
“We should have probably asked for paramedics” sooner, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts told reporters. Batts, who is Black, said the department had already begun changing policies concerning the transport of suspects and the care of people who require medical attention while in police custody.
“They were vague about how his spine was injured. We’ll have to wait to see the autopsy that they admitted they worked closely with the medical examiner’s office to develop,” Murphy said. “Who did it? How did they do it and why did they do it? Why all these stops? What were the police doing during those stops? What did they see?”
“We have no evidence — physical, video or statements — of any use of force,” the deputy police commissioner, Jerry Rodriguez, said at the news conference. “He did suffer a very tragic injury to his spinal cord, which resulted in his death. What we don’t know, and what we need to get to, is how that injury occurred.”
Batts said the reason he was stopped was “a question we have to dig into.”
The Associated Press reported that court documents indicate officer Garrett Miller was going to charge Gray with carrying a switchblade, which was discovered in Gray’s pocket after he was stopped.
But Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who is Black, said she wanted to put to rest any rumors that the knife was the reason officers pursued Gray.
“We know that having a knife is not necessarily a crime,” the mayor said.
Batts said his department would hand the results of its investigation to the state’s attorney for Baltimore, Marilyn J. Mosby, for possible prosecution. Mosby released a statement that said her office had “dedicated all its existing resources to independently investigate this matter to determine whether criminal charges will be brought.”
Batts said the Police Department would be finished with its investigation by May 1.
“I understand the community’s frustration. I understand it because I’m frustrated,” Rawlings-Blake said. “I’m angry that we are here again, that we have had to tell another mother that their child is dead. I’m frustrated that not only that we’re here, but we don’t have all of the answers. I want to know why the officers pursued Mr. Gray. I want to know if the proper procedures were followed. I want to know what steps need to be taken for accountability.”