Central to the anger of the death of Freddie Gray is the presumption that Baltimore police officers caused the spinal injury that apparently killed him. Late Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that it had obtained a sealed police report, written by police, in which the second prisoner in the van purportedly said he could hear Gray “banging against the walls,” leading the unidentified prisoner to conclude Gray “was intentionally trying to injure himself.” The prisoner was in a different cell in the van and couldn’t see Gray.
The leaked document was part of a search warrant application for the uniform worn by one of the arresting officers. On Friday, the Baltimore Police Department is turning over to state prosecutors the results of its internal investigation into Brown’s death, though the findings won’t be made public immediately. Plenty of people are skeptical about this leak.
“We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord,” Gray family lawyer Jason Downs told The Post. “We question the accuracy of the police reports we’ve seen thus far, including the police report that says Mr. Gray was arrested without force or incident.” Jayne Miller, a reporter for WBAL, tweeted that according to all other reports, Gray was already “unresponsive” when the second prisoner was picked up, and there was “no evidence” he was “banging head against van.” Among those reporting that:
BPD Commissioner Anthony Batts on 4/23 told us second prisoner in police van said Freddie Gray was “mostly quiet”. ..
— Jayne Miller (@jemillerwbal) April 30, 2015
Clouding the situation further, CNN reports that a woman “close to one of the officers involved in the arrest” says that Gray was likely injured during his arrest, and before he was placed in the police van. She said that Gray was not put in a seatbelt because, despite his being handcuffed, “he still has his teeth and he still has his saliva,” the police “didn’t want to reach over him.” Peter Weber