The emotions are raw and protests are growing in Baltimore, where a community wants answers in the death of Freddie Gray.
Tuesday evening, as protesters chanted “No justice! No Peace!,” Gray’s distraught mother, Gloria Darden, collapsed in tears at the spot her son was arrested this month. She was whisked away.
Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died of a spinal injury Sunday, exactly one week after he was taken into custody.
The demonstrations are only gaining momentum. The crowd will be back on Wednesday in front of the Western District police station where Gray was taken after his arrest.
On Thursday, they will rally in front of city hall.
“We won’t stop,” one man said Tuesday. “We have the power and, of course, today shows we have the numbers.”
Feds getting involved
The increasing public pressure comes as the Department of Justice announced it was opening an investigation into the case
A spokesman said the agency is investigating whether the civil rights of Gray were violated during a struggle on April 12.
An autopsy found that Gray died from a severe spinal cord injury, but Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez told reporters Monday that there is no indication of how the injury occurred.
“We welcome outside review,” Police Captain Eric Kowalczky said. “We want to be open, we want to be transparent. We owe it to the city and we owe it to the Gray family to find out exactly what happened.”
Police plan to conclude their own investigation by Friday, May 1. From there, the case will go to the state’s attorney’s office, which will decide whether to file charges.
Earlier in the day Tuesday, the Baltimore Police Department released the names of six police officers involved in the case. All have been suspended with pay.
They are: Lt. Brian Rice, 41, who joined the department in 1997; Officer Caesar Goodson, 45, who joined in 1999; Sgt. Alicia White, 30, who joined in 2010; Officer William Porter, 25, who joined in 2012; Officer Garrett Miller, 26, who joined in 2012; and Officer Edward Nero, 29, who joined in 2012.
After an “in-custody death,” it’s standard procedure to release the names of officers involved, said Kowalczyk.
It doesn’t mean the officers did anything wrong, nor does it mean that these were the only officers involved, he said.
Of the six officers, three were on bikes and initially approached Gray, another made eye contact with Gray, another officer joined in the arrest after it was initiated and one drove the police van, Kowalczyk said.
Speaking to CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360,” Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she understands where the protesters are coming from. She understands their frustration.
“Mr. Gray’s family deserves justice, and our community deserves an opportunity to heal, to get better, and to make sure that something like this doesn’t happen again,” she said.
Adding to the frustration is an autopsy that hasn’t yielded many answers in Gray’s death. In fact, some feel it’s prompted more questions.
“I’m going to make sure that as we get information that we can confirm, we’re going to put that information out in the public,” Rawlings-Blake said. “I want people to understand that I have no interest in hiding information, holding back information.”
She’s angry, she said, and among the questions she wants answered are: Why did police stop Gray in the first place? And why did arresting officers make what she called the mistake of not immediately requesting medical attention when Gray asked for it?
“We will get to the bottom of it, and we will go where the facts lead us,” she said. “We will hold people accountable if we find there was wrongdoing.”
Family attorney William Murphy urged patience in the case and called for a careful investigation.
“Now am I skeptical of the police investigation? You bet. Do I have reason to be skeptical? Yes, I am a normal human being who understands the history of the relationship between white police and black people in this country,” he said. “That’s enough to make me skeptical.”
What we know
According to documents obtained Monday, the April 12 incident began when Gray ran from police.
While the court documents allege that one of the arresting officers, Garrett Miller, took Gray into custody after finding a switchblade in his pocket, the Gray family attorney called the allegation a “sideshow.” Gray was carrying a “pocket knife of legal size,” Murphy said.
Police never saw the knife and chased Gray only after he took off running, the attorney said.
Court documents said Gray “fled unprovoked upon noticing police presence.”
“The officer noticed a knife clipped to the inside of (Gray’s) front right pants pocket. The defendant was arrested without force or incident,” the documents say. “The knife was recovered by this officer and found to be a spring assisted, one-hand-operated knife.”
The mayor has questioned whether police should have pursued Gray in the first place.
“It is not necessarily probable cause to chase someone. So, we still have questions,” Rawlings-Blake said.
Gray was in perfect health until police chased and tackled him, Murphy said. Less than an hour later, he was on his way to a trauma clinic with a spinal injury, where he fell into a coma.
The family has not seen the autopsy report yet, Murphy said, and relatives are still waiting to take possession of Gray’s body. The family intends to have a second, private autopsy conducted once Baltimore police turn over the body, the attorney said.
What the police say
Police, according to their own timeline, spotted Gray, gave chase, caught him, cuffed him and requested a paddy wagon in fewer than four minutes.
The transport van left with Gray about 11 minutes after that, police said, and another 30 minutes passed before “units request paramedics to the Western District to transport the suspect to an area hospital.”
Murphy and angry residents of Baltimore want to know what happened in those 30 minutes in between.
When cell phones began recording, Gray was already on the ground with three officers kneeling over him. He let out long screams.
Police said Gray requested medical attention, including an inhaler, and an ambulance took him to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s Shock Trauma Center.
“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 said. “He clung to life for seven days.”
CNN’s John Verhovek, Suzanne Malveaux, Eliott C. McLaughlin, Evan Perez, Shawn Nottingham, AnneClaire Stapleton, Julian Cummings, Chris Cuomo, Ben Brumfield and Dana Ford contributed to this report.
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