Riots broke out across downtown Baltimore Monday after a 25-year-old black man was fatally injured while in police custody.
Freddie Grey died April 17, a week after his spine was partially severed while in police custody after his arrest. Even with videos of his detainment, what happened remains unclear.
Baltimore police arrested Grey “without force or incident” on April 12 for possession of a switchblade knife, according to charging documents written by officer Garrett Miller and cited by the Baltimore Sun. During transport, Grey suffered a “medical emergency,” Miller wrote. That incident severed Grey’s spine 80% at his neck, according to a statement from the his family attorney, William “Billy” Murphy, Jr.
“He lapsed into a coma, died, was resuscitated, stayed in a coma and on Monday, underwent extensive surgery at Shock Trauma to save his life,” Murphy, Jr. said. Grey died on Sunday, the Baltimore Sun reported.
Autopsy results show that a “significant spinal injury” caused Grey’s death, the Associated Press reported. “What we don’t know is how he suffered that injury,” Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez told the AP.
Grey, however, was placed in “leg irons” after an officer felt he was becoming “irate,” according to a police timeline cited by the AP.
Initially, police stopped Grey because he “fled unprovoked upon noticing police presence,” according to court documents cited by the Sun. Officers say they then saw a knife clipped to the inside of his pants pocket.
“We know that having a knife is not necessarily a crime,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, according to the New York Times.
“When Mr. Grey was put in that van, he could talk, he was upset,” Rodriguez told the AP. “And he was taken out of that van, he could not talk, and he could not breathe.”
At a news conference, the Sun reports, police said that Grey repeatedly asked for medical care, including an inhaler, during his arrest but didn’t receive it.
All six officers involved in the incident have since been suspended, Rodriguez told the AP. At time of Grey’s death, the community had already started protesting, but the situation has since devolved into chaos. Rawlings-Blake, however, has promised to provide answers.
The US Justice Department is conducting a separate review of the Baltimore police department, according to Reuters. Police Commissioner Anthony Batts requested the review after the Baltimore Sun revealed the department had spent nearly $US6 million defending itself in more than 100 lawsuits alleging misconduct, including police brutality.
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