Six police officers have been suspended, and Baltimore city officials are trying to calm the chaos that has erupted in the city, during an investigation of the death of a suspect in police custody.
Last week, 25-year-old Freddie Gray was detained by police, placed in a police vehicle and suspiciously died before reaching the police station. Arresting officers claim that he suffered a “medical emergency” during the ride, but have provided no video or other evidence to back up the claim.
According to the Gray family’s lawyer, Billy Murphy, Gray’s “spine was 80% severed at his neck.” Indeed, Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez confirmed autopsy results revealed that Gray, “did suffer a significant spinal injury that led to his death.” He added, “What we don’t know is how he suffered that injury.”
A police report of the April 12th incident describes Gray fleeing nearby police for no clear reason. When police stopped him, a knife was reportedly found on his body, for which he was arrested. A bystander’s video footage of the arrest shows a screaming Gray being dragged into a police van, but does not show any injury being inflicted.
A police report released on Monday claims that Gray was placed in leg irons once in the van, because he was becoming “irate.”
“During transport to Western District via wagon transport the defendant suffered a medical emergency and was immediately transported to Shock Trauma via medic,” the report reads.
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said: “There were several times he made a medical request…He asked for an inhaler, and at one or two of the stops it was noticed that he was having trouble breathing and we probably should have asked for paramedics.”
Batts added that police must further investigate what happened in the van and why Gray was stopped in the first place.
The unrest caused in Baltimore is only the latest in a growing number of recent, highly-publicized confrontations between activists and police forces across the US. Approximately 50 people marched from City Hall to police headquarters Monday, carrying signs reading “Black lives matter.”
“We are a community on edge right now. We hear, I hear, the outrage. I hear the concern and I hear the fear,” Commissioner Batts said, as part of a plea for calm.