(ANTIMEDIA) Baltimore streets are flowing with protestors following the death of Freddie Gray.
On April 12th, Gray was taken into police custody after he and another male allegedly made eye contact with police officers and fled. Gray was arrested and put in a transport van. In the very short while that he was in police custody (under an hour), Gray mysteriously sustained critical injuries to his spinal cord which led to his death 1 week later.
Since Gray’s death, Baltimore has been host to ongoing waves of peaceful protestors demanding answers regarding the investigation, as the 6 officers involved have remained silent to the public. However, 5 of the 6 have made private statements to the police regarding the incident, leaving Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake frustrated that one officer has refused to talk to police. The details regarding the incident as of now are few. Rawlings-Blake, Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts, and Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez recently stood before the press and discussed the available details. Rodriguez was able to supply a timeline of events using timestamps on the radio history. According to Rodriguez, Gray allegedly gave up and did not resist arrest. It was reported that one officer reached for his taser during the arrest, but records on the weapon and lack of burns found in Gray’s autopsy confirm that it was not deployed. Gray was detained at approximately 8:40 AM after police allegedly found a switch-blade in his pants. 4 minutes had passed until the van had arrived, during which, Gray asked for an inhaler. The van driver claimed that Gray had been irate and was told to stop the vehicle by another unit in order to “finish up the paperwork” and place Gray in leg irons.
“At approximately 8:54:02, the wagon clears Mount St. heading toward central booking going southbound. Approximately 5 minutes elapse and at 8:59:52, there’s a request at Druid Hill and Dolphin, which is east of Mount and Baker, the person driving the van asks for an additional unit to check on his prisoner; that is Mr. Gray,” Rodriguez said in the recent press conference.
The transport vehicle Gray was riding in was requested for another arrest. However, according to Rodriguez, there was “some communication with Mr. Gray”. After picking up a suspect from an unrelated arrest and reaching the western district, medics were called in. This was at approximately 9:24 AM.
The possibility of the second suspect inflicting Gray’s injuries has been ruled out, as the two were divided in the van by a large metal barrier and could have no direct contact with him other than words.
According to Gray’s family, he was taken into surgery for 3 fractured neck vertebrae, and a crushed voice box due to unknown trauma.
Now the first question to ask is whether or not Baltimore police had any right to pursue Gray to begin with. Technically speaking, running away from the police unprovoked is not a crime, no matter how curious one might feel about it, plain and simple. However, the attorney representing the officers involved might be able to brush that one off with a legal loophole.
“There is a Supreme Court case that states that if you are in a high-crime area, and you flee from the police unprovoked, the police have the legal ability to pursue you, and that’s what they did,” he said. “In this type of an incident, you do not need probable cause to arrest. You just need a reasonable suspicion to make the stop,” Baltimore Police union attorney Michael Davey said in a statement to reporters.
In other words, if you live in an area where police are likely to harass you, avoiding them is a reason for detainment whether you were previously breaking the law or not.
While Mayor Rawlings-Blake has continued to press for answers from Baltimore police, their police union doesn’t seem to be making very smart PR decisions. Following the protests, Gene Ryan, President of the Fraternal Order of Police, publicly compared peaceful protestors to the likes of a “lynch mob”, a statement he quickly retracted after a great backlash of criticism and anger.
According to Ryan, this statement came from the fact that an admitted very few protestors were saying things that, to put it as childish as it is in nature, hurt his feelings. So apparently, peaceful protests with fed up and angry protestors resembles a lynch mob to the President of the Baltimore police union.
“The president of the police union called peaceful protests and the anger at the death of a man to severe and unfathomable injuries while in police custody a lynch mob? It doesn’t get more insensitive or insulting than that. These remarks illustrate why black people and the police don’t get along,” the Gray family’s attorney stated in regards to Ryan’s remark.
The US Department of Justice has launched a full investigation into the six officers on paid leave whose names have been withheld in regards to their safety.
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