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Monday, December 09, 2019

Baltimore Police Give Findings Into Freddie Gray Death To Prosecutor

By Timothy M. Phelps and Michael Muskal, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

BALTIMORE — Baltimore police turned over their findings into the death of Freddie Gray to the state prosecutor on Thursday, a day earlier than their self-imposed deadline.

The results of the investigation were sent to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby on Thursday morning, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts announced.

“We have exhausted every lead at this point. But this does not mean the investigation is over,” he said.

The action comes amid published reports of a new narrative suggesting that Gray intentionally tried to injure himself as he was being transported in a police van.

The 25-year-old African-American died from a severed spine on April 19, a week after he was arrested by Baltimore police and transported by van. Police are investigating how Gray, who was cuffed with his hands behind his back and his legs in irons, was injured.

The police findings into the death, which has led to days of protests and a fevered Monday night of rioting and looting, were scheduled to be completed by Friday, but were completed early.

The state’s attorney has the final say on whether to charge any of the six officers with a state crime. The officers have been suspended with pay.

“By turning these documents, our findings, over to the state’s attorney’s office as quickly as we can, we are being accountable to them so that we can be accountable to the public,” spokesman Captain Eric Kowalczyk said Wednesday.

Police have already acknowledged that department policy was breached when Gray was placed in the van but not buckled into a seat belt and when officers failed to get him medical care in a timely fashion. The federal Justice Department is also investigating whether there were any violations of federal civil rights law.

Police have said that the van stopped three times while carrying Gray to a police precinct. At one stop, Gray was taken from the van and placed in irons. At the last stop, another inmate was also placed in the van but was separated from Gray by a metal barrier.

According to The Washington Post, the prisoner sharing the police van told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”

The Post quoted from what it said was a Baltimore police document that was included in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post said it was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.

The document offers the first official look at what happened in the van. Baltimore police have said they do not know whether Gray was injured during the arrest or during his ride in the van.

Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12, then taken to a hospital, where he died in a coma a week later.

Jason Downs, one of the attorneys for the Gray family, told the Post that the family had not been told of the prisoner’s comments to investigators.

“We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord,” Downs said. “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.”

Photo: Vladimir Badikov via Flickr


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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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