With new accounts surfacing of his arrest and events that followed, many are questioning if Freddie Gray might have been a victim of his own brutality. As far-fetched as this notion seems, two separate reports seem to point toward at least some culpability on the part of Gray in his own injuries either before being loaded into the Baltimore Police wagon or after the trip to holding began. The young black man died from severe spinal cord injuries one week after being arrested.
Other Prisoner Says Gray Tried To Hurt Himself
In a report by the Washington Post, an unnamed prisoner who was also in the transportation vehicle during the infamous “nickel ride” to police holding says that Gray was extremely agitated, “throwing himself” against the walls of the van and “thrashing about.” The prisoner remained unidentified due to concerns for possible retaliation while being jailed. While police say that the prisoner could not see Gray through the separating walls of the van, he could certainly hear the activity next to him. He says he thought that the man was trying to “intentionally hurt himself.”
Jason Downs, attorney for the family, strongly disputes the possibility that Gray could have severed his own spinal cord as the family is claiming. The family is questioning the veracity of police reports saying that their son was taken into custody without force or injury.
Police Commissioner Admits Improper Handling
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts admits that his staff mishandled Gray’s transportation and failed to get proper medical attention in a timely fashion. The arrestee was reportedly not buckled into the van as is required by police regulations. Regardless of whether his injuries occurred by the reckless actions of the van driver or by his own hand, proper buckling might have prevented further injury during the 30 minute ride to the police station.
There were reportedly three stops during the half-hour transportation process. At least one of the stops placed the other prisoner inside the adjacent holding container in the van. Upon each of the stops, Batts says that his staff failed to recognize the man’s medical distress, if it was present at that time. It has yet to be determined when or even how the spinal injury could have occurred and the question remains as to whether Gray could have been the victim of his own brutality.
Relative of Officer Sheds New Light On Arrest
In an interview with CNN, a female relative of one of the arresting officers reports that he does not know how Gray was injured during the process. Video of the incident shows him being dragged to the van by police and evidently standing up on at least one leg to be placed into the van. This would seem to indicate that acute spinal injury might not have occurred yet.
The relative claimed that Gray was not buckled up because of his belligerence. In order to buckle a prisoner into the van, officers must reach across the arrestee in their personal space. With Gray in an agitated state, the relative of the officer said he feared getting bitten or even head-butted.
Commissioner Batts still contends that buckling the suspect into the van is required procedurally and failure to do this is inexcusable. Batts says that preliminary reports do not indicate if Gray was injured before or after transportation.
Continued Unrest and Rioting Spreads
Protestors took to the streets again last night in other cities around the country. In New York City, over one hundred people were arrested in a “NYC Rise Up & Shut It Down With Baltimore” rally. Cities around the country saw arrests made for assault, disorderly conduct, looting and obstruction of roadways. More protests are slated for the next few days.
Baltimore Police will hand over the investigation to the State Attorney’s office on Friday. Sadly, no definite answers are expected in the question of whether he was victimized by police or if Gray was a victim of his own brutality.
By Chris Marion
Photos by Vladimir Badikov – Creativecommons Flickr License