On Sunday, Freddie Gray , a 25-year old black man from Baltimore, died because of a severed spine he got while being held in custody by the police. The six police officers involved in his arrest currently deny that they had used force or witnessed an abuse of power during the arrest.
But the death of the young man triggered a series of protests in Baltimore with people calling for justice to be done. The ordeal of Mr. Gray was videotaped by a police camera which clearly showed that he was pinned to the ground by the police officers and thrown into a police van while he was screaming in pain. He died seven days later at a local hospital after lapsing into a coma.
Doctors reported that his spine was 80 percent injured at his neck. His lawyer and family members said that he was healthy before the police took him into custody.
Protesters rallied because they believe that the police are secretive about the circumstances of Mr. Gray’s death because they are currently trying to develop a version of the story that would absolve the six police officers involved of any responsibility. However, Mr. Gray’s family and the protesters that gathered in Baltimore said that they won’t stop the protests until justice was served.
On Monday, a visibly frustrated and angry Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake promised protesters a transparent investigation that would provide Baltimore’s very tense citizens with all the details they deserved.
On the other hand, Jerry Rodriguez, who serves as Deputy Police Commissioner in Baltimore, repeatedly claimed that none of the six officers “described any use of force” against the 25-year-old man.
Mr. Rodriguez also stated that the police had no idea what really happened on the day when police officers chased after Mr. Gray who tried to escape them after making eye contact with one of them. Yet, Mr. Gray’s lawyer said that the police had no reason to run after his client or arrest him.
Still, Mr. Rodriguez admitted that the footage clearly showed that the man was able to talk and was visibly upset before entering the police van, while after he was taken out of the vehicle, he couldn’t talk and not even breathe.
Mr. Gray’s attorney told reporters that an autopsy was performed Monday. The autopsy report revealed that the young man’s neck was fractured and his spine was 80 percent severed.
Moreover, the police officers involved in Mr. Gray’s arrest declined to give him his asthma inhaler after he had repeatedly requested it. But they did call the ambulance about 40 minutes after he asked them to give him his inhaler.
According to court papers, Mr. Gray was summoned Sunday to court to provide explanations on a switchblade knife he was carrying on the day of his arrest. But it is still unclear whether the police officers knew about the knife when they chased after him. Still, Mr. Gray’s lawyer argued that carrying a knife was not a crime.
The Baltimore Police Department promised that the investigation would be finished by May 1 when the state’s attorney’s office would decide whether to charge the six police officers who are currently on paid suspension.
Image Source: ABC News