Thousands of people were rejected from Baltimore city jails due to the severity of their injuries while in police custody, with medical issues ranging from broken bones to facial trauma and more than 100 reported “visible head injuries,” newly released public records show.
The records, obtained by The Baltimore Sun, describe a pattern of injuries of such severity among those apprehended by police that correctional officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center turned away nearly 2,600 detainees over a three year period. According to records provided to The Sun through a Maryland Public Information Act, visible head injuries were the third highest medical issue reported by intake officers in Central Booking between June 2012 and April 2015.
The records do not indicate whether people sustained those injuries prior to their apprehension or while they were in police custody. However the prevalence of rejected jail bookings due to medical issues, numbering in the thousands and accounting for more than 2% of total bookings, according to The Sun, taps into allegations leveled by residents for years of officers’ willful disregard toward a suspect’s health.
The Baltimore Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The department has been under intense scrutiny since the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose spine was severed while in police custody. Six Baltimore Police officers have been charged in his death, facing penalties ranging from murder to assault, after Gray was repeatedly denied medical help during a 45-minute van ride following an illegal arrest.
Public outrage over Gray’s death triggered rounds of violent unrest through the streets of Baltimore, becoming the latest flashpoint in nationwide protests over policing tactics that target communities of color.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Friday said the Justice Department would open a civil rights investigation into the Baltimore Police Department’s policies and practices, following the “serious erosion of public trust” in the wake of the mysterious circumstances of Gray’s death.
As The Sun has previously reported, residents have claimed for years that the police department routinely roughed up alleged suspects and ignored pleas for medical attention. In September, the local newspaper found that the city was slapped with over 100 lawsuits since 2011, and was forced to pay out nearly $6 million in judgments and settlements.