Freddie Gray was “banging against the walls” of a police van he was placed in and seemed to be “intentionally trying to injure himself” after his arrest earlier this month, another arrestee riding in the vehicle told investigators, according to a new and potentially game-changing investigative document.
Gray, 25, was arrested on April 12 following a police foot chase. Officers recovered a pocket knife. After a 30-minute ride in the police van, Gray, who is black, was found unconscious. He was transported to the hospital and was found to have suffered a spinal injury of unknown origin. He died a week later.
Looting and rioting have erupted in recent days as police have provided little information about the investigation into Gray’s death.
The only evidence floating around in that information vacuum is a partial video of Gray’s arrest which shows two officers on top of him, one with a knee on his back. Video also shows police dragging Gray to a transport van as he was crying out. The videos have generated speculation that Gray died as the result of police brutality.
But a document obtained by The Washington Post could shift that perception. The paper obtained an investigative report which included a statement by a 38-year-old man arrested after Gray.
Though the man said he could not see Gray because he was separated by a metal partition, he told investigators that he heard Gray banging against the wall of the police van. The Post, which withheld the man’s identity to protect his safety, reported that it was unclear if there was other evidence to support his claim.
The man was arrested for violating a protective order and is still in jail. His statement is included in a sealed application for a search warrant, The Post reported.
The affidavit does not indicate whether any of the officers involved in Gray’s arrest heard him banging against the van.
Though the new report, if accurate, could clear the six officers suspended following the incident of the worst accusations of wrongdoing, there are still numerous questions about how police handled Gray.
Baltimore police commissioner Anthony Batts has said that officers failed to provide Gray with proper medical attention and that they did not properly secure him in the van with a seat belt.
Gray’s injury and the circumstances of his death have caused some to speculate that he may have been the victim of what’s called a “rough ride.” A “rough ride” is one in which a police officer drives erratically in order to throw a handcuffed prisoner off balance.
Despite his criticisms of his own officers, Batts has said that Gray was able to enter the police van on his own accord. He also said that officers claimed Gray was “irate.”
An attorney for Gray’s family disputed The Post’s latest report.
“We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord,” 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.”
Police expect to conclude their investigation by Friday. At that point, the case will be turned over to the Maryland state attorney.