The six police officers involved in the case of a Baltimore man who died of a severed spine while in custody denied using or witnessing any force during the arrest, a city official said Monday.
There have been several days of protest in Baltimore after 25-year-old Freddie Gray was videotaped being pinned to the ground by police and then bundled into a police van — only to die a week later.
Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez made the disclosure at a press conference Monday, where an “angry” and “frustrated” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake promised a thorough investigation and to provide a “very, very tense” Baltimore with “all of the information it deserves.”
“None of the officers describe any use of force,” Rodriguez said. “None of the officers describe using any force against Mr. Gray.”
He said he did not know yet what happened to Gray, who died Sunday, a week after officials said he bolted from three cops after making eye contact with one of them.
“When Mr. Gray was placed in that van, he was able to talk, he was upset,” Rodriguez said. “When he was taken out of the van, he could not talk, he could not breathe.”
Gray’s lawyer said that Gray’s spinal cord was 80% severed and that his neck was broken. An autopsy was performed Monday.
Gray asked officers for his asthma inhaler, which he did not have with him. Officers took Gray to the Western District station house — first stopping en route to secure his feet. They called for an ambulance approximately 40 minutes after he requested his inhaler, according to a police timeline.
Court records show police issued Gray a summons for a switchblade knife on Sunday. It was unclear whether officers knew Gray had a knife or why they chased after him, but Rawlings-Blake said, “We know having a knife is not necessarily a crime, not necessarily probable cause.”
“I want to know why the officers pursued Mr. Gray; I want to know if the proper procedures were followed; I want to know what steps need to be taken for accountability,” Rawlings-Blake said.
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts promised his department would have its investigation of the incident finished by Friday, May 1, and that the results would be turned over to the state’s attorney’s office for their decision on whether to charge the officers involved — all of whom have been suspended with pay.