The family of a Maryland man paralyzed from the waist down during a traffic stop has hired the same attorney who represented relatives of Freddie Gray.
Gray, 25, died in police custody after suffering fatal spinal cord injuries he sustained during a “rough ride” while handcuffed in the back of a police van in April 2015.
Demonte Ward-Blake, 24, of Hillcrest Heights was paralyzed when police handcuffed him and pulled him to the ground, reportedly causing him to land on his neck Oct. 17, according to The Washington Post.
Police said Ward-Blake was trying to run after officers stopped him allegedly for driving a vehicle with expired tags around 5:35 p.m. in the 4000 block of Wheeler Road, the newspaper reported.
When the responding officer stopped the man, who was in the car with a 6-year-old girl, the cop reported smelling marijuana, the Post reported.
The officer was writing down information when the driver began shouting and reached toward a console in the car, police told the Post.
The officer called for backup, and when they arrived, police removed Ward-Blake from the car and handcuffed him.
Police claim at that point Ward-Blake began to jerk away from their grasp as he was being walked to the police car, leading the officer to do a takedown that caused the handcuffed man to hit his neck when he hit the ground.
Baltimore attorney William H. “Billy” Murphy Jr. helped negotiate a $6.4 million settlement with the city in Gray’s death, and the attorney told the Post the investigation in Ward-Blake’s case is ongoing.
“We ask that you pray for Demonte and his family during this very difficult time,” he said.
Chinayne Pollard, the man’s girlfriend, created a GoFundMe page to raise money for Ward-Blake’s medical bills, legal fees and a wheelchair-accessible home for him and his family.
“Unfortunately, he became a victim of Police Brutality with excessive force used during the stop,” she said in the post. “This tragedy has left him with a broken neck, a broken nose, and currently paralyzed from the waist down.”
She called the incident a “devastating” and “life changing.”
Police officials called Ward-Blake’s injuries “grievous,” the Post reported.
“This is not an acceptable outcome,” Police Chief Hank Stawinski told WJLA.
She posted video she recorded of the encounter on Instagram in three parts, according to WJLA.
In one of the videos, Ward-Blake was shown handcuffed sitting on the ground with his head slumped over while Pollard pleaded with her boyfriend to stop talking .
“Stop acting a fool,” an officer said at one point in the encounter.
In another video, Ward-Blake was seen lying along the curb with an ambulance stretcher next to him.
Ward-Blake has undergone surgery and is recuperating in a Baltimore hospital, his family told WJLA.