Freddie Gray death: New narratives question police brutality claim

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BALTIMORE, Md. (April 30, 2015) – Two new accounts of what happened to Freddie Gray question the narrative that has fueled protests in Baltimore — the notion that Gray died as a result of police brutality.

The first comes from a woman close to one of the officers involved in the arrest. She told CNN the officer thinks Gray was injured while he was being arrested — before he was put inside a police van.

The second is an account published in the Washington Post in which a prisoner who was in the van told investigators he thought Gray “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”

The new twists to the story come just before Baltimore police are set to release their investigation to state prosecutors, who will decide whether charges should be filed against any officers.

Source: Officer doesn’t know how Gray was hurt

The woman who spoke to CNN did so on the condition of anonymity. She is related to the officer, but said the officer didn’t request the interview.

The woman told CNN that the officer doesn’t know how Gray was hurt during his arrest.

She also gave an explanation of why Gray was not buckled into the police van: he appeared belligerent.

“They didn’t want to reach over him. You were in a tight space in the paddy wagon. He’s already irate,” she said.

“He still has his teeth and he still has his saliva. So in order to seat belt somebody you have to get in their personal space. They’re not going to get in his personal space if he’s already irate.”

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts has said Gray should have been buckled in.

“We know he was not buckled in the transport wagon, as he should’ve been. No excuses for that, period,” Batts said last week.

He said there was “potential” that Gray’s fatal injury could have come either inside or outside the police van.

Report: Gray was trying to hurt himself, prisoner says

The Washington Post account cites an investigative document written by a Baltimore police investigator.

In it, a prisoner who was in the same police van as Gray said he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the van and thought Gray “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”

The prisoner was separated from Gray by a metal barrier and could not see him, police have said.

The account is similar to what the police commissioner told CNN affiliate WJZ last week, when Batts said another suspect in the van heard Gray “thrashing about.”

But Gray family attorney Jason Downs disputes the notion that Gray caused his own fatal injury.

“We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord,” 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 to hand over investigation

Baltimore police said they plan to hand over findings from their investigation to state prosecutors Friday. But that’s far from the end of the case.

“Let me further clear up: When we take our information or our files to the State’s Attorney’s Office on Friday, that is not the conclusion of this investigation,” Batts said last week.

“That is just us sitting down, providing all the data we have. We will continue to follow the evidence wherever it goes.”

Charges, if any, may not come anytime soon.

“I hate to say this, but I think if people are waiting for answers or charges to come on Friday. I don’t think that’s going to happen based on the way the process works,” Gray family attorney Mary Koch said.

“I think that the government officials need to advise people of how the process honestly works and to lower their expectations about what’s going to happen this Friday.”

Protests spread over Freddie Gray

Wednesday night, protesters took to the streets Baltimore once again, demanding change and accountability for Gray’s death.

For the second night in a row, a 10 p.m. curfew went into effect. And for the second night in a row, the crowd dissipated peacefully, preventing a repeat of Monday night’s riots.

But a protest in New York City turned out differently. More than 60 people were arrested during demonstrations in Times Square.

And in Denver, police made nine arrests during a similar protest. The charges include assault of a police officer, robbery, resisting police, disobedience to lawful orders, obstructing roadways, and interference.


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