Baltimore police is silent on probe of FreddieGray

Baltimore police is silent on probe of FreddieGray

 

Baltimore police’s silence on probe of Freddie Gray’s death is criticized

 

 

Baltimore police complete probe of Gray’s death(1:02)

 

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said the results of the Freddie Gray investigation have been given to the state's attorney. (Reuters)

By Arelis Hernández,, Joe Heim and Matt Zapotosky April 30 at 10:48 PM  Follow @JoeHeim Follow @mattzap

BALTIMORE — Baltimore police on Thursday turned over to prosecutors the findings of the department’s investigation of the death of Freddie Gray — a much-anticipated, if incremental, development that did not seem to alter the mood of the city, which in recent days has been gripped by unrest.

Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts said at a news conference that his department provided the report a day before his self-imposed deadline because he understood residents’ anger over the 25-year-old’s death and their eagerness to learn more about what caused it. Still, he and a department spokesman declined to provide many details about what investigators uncovered.

“I understand the frustration. I understand the sense of urgency . . . and that is why we have finished it a day ahead of time,” Batts said. “I also know that getting to the right answer is more important than the speed.”

Some residents had feared that the turning over of the report to prosecutors might spark more violence in the city, where on Monday cars were torched, stores looted, and rocks and bottles thrown at police. But with National Guard soldiers still patrolling the streets and a 10 p.m. curfew still in effect Thursday, Baltimore remained calm.

[Events leading to Gray’s arrest and hospitalization]

In the aftermath of Baltimore riots

View Photos

Residents clean up from the looting and fires that plagued parts of the city Monday after the funeral for Freddie Gray.

Just before 5 p.m. Thursday, about 500 people — some carrying signs or wearing shirts that read “I bleed Baltimore” or “I ♥ being black” — marched in the streets, chanting and raising their fists in the air. They soon met up with another group, and together they moved peacefully toward City Hall.

Gray’s death has sparked marches in other parts of the country. In Philadelphia, a peaceful rally turned tense Thursday night when a group of protesters who tried to enter Interstate 95 clashed with police.

Police said that more demonstrations were planned for Friday and beyond and that they intended to maintain a large presence of law-enforcement officers.

“Although we’ve had two days of peace and quiet, we still have a weekend to make it through,” Batts said.

Also on Thursday, the national response team from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began investigating the site of athree-alarm fire Monday night that destroyed a senior center being built next to a church in East Baltimore.

The blaze at the Mary Harkins Senior Center on North Chester Street is one of seven fires the ATF team is investigating as possible arsons, said Special Agent David Cheplak, an ATF spokesman, who added that a reward of up to $10,000 was being offered in the cases. The others include fires at two CVS pharmacies and a Rite Aid pharmacy.

In many parts of the city Thursday, residents tried to return to business as usual. In the West Baltimore neighborhood, some people stood waiting for buses. Next door to a CVS that was looted and burned Monday, about 60 senior citizens who live in a building there worried about how they would get their medication, food and toiletries. But on Thursday, some of their concerns were alleviated as residents, businesses and sororities dropped off donated items.

Events leading to Gray’s arrest and hospitalization VIEW GRAPHIC 

“This is such a blessing,” said Reginald Hope, 72, one of the residents.

Police did release one new detail Thursday: Investigators said they discovered that the van that transported Gray on April 12 made four stops after he was arrested but before he was taken to a police station.

That is one more stop than had been reported, although what happened during it and why it was made remained unclear.

Some groups, including CASA de Maryland and members of the Baltimore United for Change coalition, criticized authorities for not being transparent enough.

“It seems impossible for them not to release something,” said Kim Propeack, director of CASA in Action, the political arm of the immigrant-advocacy organization. “The public has a right to know the details of the investigation.”

Local authorities defended their handling of the case and pleaded for patience, noting that their investigation and related federal probes are continuing. On CNN, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) seemed to lash out at people who have criticized her response to the crisis.

“The record is clear. I invited the Department of Justice in here to reform our police department. . . . I know we have problems, and I was determined to fix them. Don’t get it twisted,” she said.

The Baltimore state’s attorney’s office released a statement confirming that it had “received the hard copies” of the police investigative file but that the results of the probe were “not new to us.”

“We have been briefed regularly throughout their process while simultaneously conducting our own independent investigation into the death of Freddie Gray,” the statement said. “We ask for the public to remain patient and peaceful and to trust the process of the justice system.”

The case is fraught with unanswered questions and controversy.

When Gray was taken into custody, two officers put their knees into his back, then dragged his seemingly limp body to the van as he cried out, according to a video shot by bystanders.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.) has questioned their cause for stopping Gray: A police document says he ran from officers and he was later found to have a knife. And Batts said previously that officers repeatedly ignored Gray’s pleas for medical help and failed to secure him with a safety belt or harness in the back of the transport van, as policy requires.

The van made four stops before Gray was taken to the Western District police station, police said. From there, he was taken to the hospital, where he died a week later of a severe spinal injury

[Gray’s life is a study in the sad effects of lead paint on poor blacks]

Kevin Davis, a deputy police commissioner, said investigators had found out about the second stop — at North Fremont Avenue and Mosher Street — after reviewing footage from a private surveillance camera, although he did not specify what happened during it. Authorities have said previously that the van stopped once to put Gray in leg irons, another time to check on him and a third time to pick up another arrestee. Batts has said an officer driving the van described Gray as “irate,” and an application for a search warrant says that Gray “continued to be combative in the police wagon.”

The warrant alleges that another prisoner in the van believed that Gray “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” although an attorney for Gray’s family has disputed the notion that Gray could have “severed his own spinal cord” and questioned the accuracy of some police reports.

[Prisoner says Freddie Gray was ‘trying to injure himself’]

Six police officers, including a lieutenant and a sergeant, were suspended after the incident.

Gray’s death was followed by days of protest — at first peaceful, but early this week, less so. Authorities announced Thursday afternoon that 98 officers had reported injuries since the unrest reached a tipping point Monday, including 43 who went to the hospital. Police spokesman Eric Kowalczyk said that 13 of those officers are now out on medical leave, an additional 15 were on light duty and 15 were on full duty.

Police arrested 201 people during the mayhem, but Kowalczyk announced Thursday that 106 of them were let go with no charges after police missed a deadline to document why they were taken into custody. Kowalczyk said investigators will review surveillance footage and other materials to see whether charges are appropriate for any of those released.

 

Keith L. Alexander, John Woodrow Cox, Mary Pat Flaherty, Hamil R. Harris, Dana Hedgpeth, Josh Hicks, Cheryl W. Thompson and Julie Zauzmer contributed to this report.

 

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