Freddie Gray

Freddie Gray's Neck Reportedly Broke in Van, Officer Who Drove Van Still Hasn't Given Statement to Authorities

Anonymous sources talk after police send their investigative findings to prosecutors.

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Today the Baltimore Police Department sent its findings about the death of Freddie Gray in police custody to the state's attorney, who says her office is also conducting its own internal probe. Authorities aren't releasing any information, but WJLA reports on details from anonymous sources:

Sources said the medical examiner found Gray's catastrophic injury was caused when he slammed into the back of the police transport van, apparently breaking his neck; a head injury he sustained matches a bolt in the back of the van.

Details surrounding exactly what caused Gray to slam into the back of the van was unclear. The officer driving the van has yet to give a statement to authorities. It's also unclear whether Gray's head injury was voluntary or was result of some other action.

Yesterday the Washington Post reported on a police document that included testimony from a prisoner who shared the van with Gray that he heard him banging his head against the wall repeatedly. WJLA investigative reporter Jayne Miller told MSNBC's Chris Hayes her reporting points to that prisoner being placed in the van after Gray was already unresponsive.

Absent any official explanation about Gray's death, one widely circulated suggestion is that he was taken on a nickel ride, where police take rough rides while transporting prisoners who are handcuffed but not secured to a seat. It can cause severe injuries. David Simon, who was a police reporter in Baltimore in the 80s and 90s, mentioned it in passing in a recent interview he gave the Marshall Project about Baltimore, saying that calling a cop an "asshole" could lead to "going hard into the wagon." And it was back then, Simon says, that Baltimore cops had a code about the limits of their brutality.

Prosecutors say they are not providing any information about their investigation or the police investigation so as not to give potential defendants an advantage. Prosecutors don't want defendants to be able to start preparing a defense early based on any initial information. It may not be unusual stance for prosecutors to take, but it is highly unusual that the prime suspect in what looks like a homicide could go weeks without giving a statement to authorities and avoid arrest. Yet the officer who drove the van, the only one of the officers who interacted with Gray who has not provided a statement, has just done that. Do prosecutors think he's not preparing a defense, whether or not they release any information?

That cop's status, however, is not about to prosecutors, or even the police department. The Maryland Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights guarantees a cop has 10 days to hire legal representation before having to give a statement to police. Earlier this year, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake pushed for reforms to that law that would make it easier to discipline cops found guilty of misconduct. Police officers in Maryland can't be fired just because they were found guilty of something. The 10 day grace period was not a target of Rawlings-Blake's reform proposals. And while Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) told CNN Baltimore would be requesting a pattern and practice investigation of its police department, Rawligns-Blake, in office for nearly four years, had apparently never done that before.

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  1. The video evidence from the van will surely clear things up quickly.

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    2. Yeah, like that was working.

  2. “It’s also unclear whether Gray’s head injury was voluntary or was result of some other action”

    So unclear.

    1. They’re really going with the “the crazy nigger killed himself to make us look bad” defense, then. amazing.

      1. Could’ve been a Predator attack. You know, the aliens from the movie.

        1. There would be a tell-tale shimmer on the video in that case.

      2. As every upstanding member of Baltimore’s finest knows there is simply no way to control a crazed darkie. He was probably on PCP or flaka or something.

        1. He was probably on PCP. Broke every bone in his hand and wouldn’t feel it for hours. There was this guy once, you see this scar?

          1. If people can spontaneously burst into flame, why couldn’t some subset of a person do so as well? Like, I dunno, a spine.

            1. Have the authorities investigated the possibility of a voodoo doll attack?

      3. Oooh, he was trying to emulate Sheriff Bart’s move, and failed (due to drugs, obviously)? Well, that clears everything up – bonus for all the cops!

      4. He was on PCP and devil weed, a deadly combo.
        They were lucky to get home without a scratch.

  3. I’m sure they’ll pull the data from the van’s GPS or ECU to see how he was driving.

    No way that data gets erased. No siree bob.

    1. Check Hillary’s server…

  4. So his neck got tired of holding up his stupid head and just gave up and broke itself.

    1. It could happen. What?

    2. I lol’ed, and I’m driving.

      *swerves around cop to avoid ticket*

    3. He was, as is proper for one who failed to immediately obey our hero-authorities and who would endanger our streets by carrying concealed knives, hanging his head in shame with such force that incurred the injury.

      1. Bo, what do you think of the principle of damages being presumed in defamation per se cases?

  5. Dances-with-trolls is owed a hat tip.

    Just sayin’. Since Ed didn’t.

  6. What kind of insane world is this where the local police are just turning the case over to state authorities?

  7. So let’s assume he was trying to injure himself by “slamming” (!) himself around.

    Why was he not restrained?!?!?

    1. Seriously, I can get a hefty ticket for failing to have all my passengers wearing seat belts.

      But apparently with a paddy wagon, which could conceivably do high speed emergency maneuvers while carrying cuffed detainees, it is a-okay to not have restraints.

      1. I read an article, I think WaPo, that Baltimore paddywagons didn’t even have restraints until very recently. Apparently they just had a metal bar that prisoners were told to hold onto. The policy amount restraining them just came out in the last couple months.

      2. See also: public school buses.

  8. I’ve been quiet on this one because I remember some cases where prisoners were able to do some insane shit to themselves while in custody. I remember a case where a handcuffed man hung himself in the back of a van.

    The problem of course is the police continue to undermine themselves. Then wonder aloud why everyone questions their integrity.

    1. It is conceivable that he somehow managed to break his neck by throwing himself around, especially if he timed his throws with rapid deceleration or acceleration of the van. But why would he want to kill (or even hurt) himself? He was arrested for illegal possession of a knife, not first degree murder.

      1. He had been arrested and charged about two dozen times, some assault, drug dealing and drug posessions.
        While we may never know absolutely for sure what happened. there have been stories and songs over the ages.. one comes to mind, ‘..don’t @ee in the wind, .. You don’t spit into the wind You don’t pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger And you don’t mess around with …’.. to say.. eventually… there are no old, stupid, violent, drug dealers.

    2. My favorite suspect doing insane shit is the guy who supposedly shot himself in the head, with his hands cuffed behind his back, while sitting in the back seat of a police car after being searched. I never would have believed it, but it’s hard not to since cops don’t lie, right?

      http://nypost.com/2014/01/11/h…..f-cop-car/

      1. Yeah! it’s amazing the crazy shit that prisoner’s can do to themselves, alone, in police custody, when nobody is looking. After hearing this story, I’m sure it’s true that Freddie Gray broke his own neck, probably on purpose.

    3. In Durham, we had a 17 yo Latino kid shoot himself in back of the head with a 45 cal auto.
      He had no weapons on him and was seat-belted in back of police car with hands cuffed behind his back.
      Official response was “It seems impossible”

      He was suicidal…just like this guy, and both equally dead.

      This wouldn’t happen if people just obeyed the cops without question.

  9. I also want to know what happened in between the arrival of the van and his death in the hospital a week later. Was he conscious? Did he say anything? Did he get proper medical care? So he had near-fatal injuries but took a week to die? That week is another big blank area.

    1. I do not think that is uncommon and it’s more conceivable than the “he broke his back by throwing himself around the paddy wagon” story.

  10. Yesterday’s LA Times reported that Gray had a crushed larynx, 3 broken vertebra, and a severed spinal cord. I’ll wait until the autopsy is released, but if that info is accurate, I can’t see how banging his head – even with an extreme impact – could cause a crushed larynx.

    We’ll see, hopefully.

    1. The crushed larynx is tough to square with a nickel ride. Maybe the injuries happened at different times – one fatass put a little more knee pressure on his neck than he meant to, then they threw him in the paddy wagon. Who knows. One thing you can count on is that the pigs’ account is an utter lie.

      1. During transport, they stopped once because he was asking for an inhaler and complaining. The cops took him out of the van, laid him out on the pavement, and put leg shackles on him then put him back inside.

        My guess is they fucked him up while he was sprawled on the sidewalk – knee to the back of the neck.

        Just a guess.

    2. crushed larynx.

      You forgot to drop the mic.

  11. I was once arrested for public intoxication and thrown into a paddywagon. I, being an 18 year old dipshit, decided to repeatedly bash my head into the window of the van in protest. Any viewing of an episode of cops will show that this is hardly uncommon among people being taken into custody. This will be the line of defense the police use.

    But I’m fairly certain that there is no conceivable way I could’ve successfully broken my neck engaging in this sort of behavior.

    1. But, could have crushed your larynx? I’m not sure exactly where a larynx is locate in your species, so my question is legitimate.

      1. There are no illegitimate questions, only illegitimate answers.

  12. In backward Montana, if someone dies in police custody and the prosecutor doesn’t promptly bring charges, an inquest jury examines the evidence at a public hearing, and can recommend prosecution.

    Does Maryland have a law like this, or do we get to rely on summaries and leaks?

    1. We here in the North East are so much more enlightened than you brutal, savages in the less populated states.

      Our glorious leaders will provide us with all the information they want us to have.

  13. The DOT needs to mandate the installation of approved “Crook Seats” in all LE vehicles used for the transport of detainees in cuffs.

  14. “Yesterday the Washington Post reported on a police document that included testimony from a prisoner who shared the van with Gray that he heard him banging his head against the wall repeatedly.”

    How big are these freakin vans? This other prisoner shared the van, yet “heard” Gray banging his head?! How does this prisoner know that Gray wasn’t kicking the van’s wall with his foot? How many rooms are in these vans?

  15. Unfortunately, a prosecutor has a symbiotic relationships with the police and hardly make for a valid PROSECUTOR. Prosecutors work with these same police officers (some good and some bad) every single day. They are on the same side. People in Law enforcement have an US-vs-THEM mentality. And, that goes for the officers, the prosecutors, and the judges.
    When a Cop/Judge/Prosecutor or relative of a Cop/Judge/Prosecutor are inadvertently pulled over for traffic offenses, they merely need to show their “GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD” and nothing really happens to them. This is why police officers/Judges and Prosecutors are ever held responsible for their actions. And this is only human. Had I been a Cop/Judge/Prosecutor I would do the exact same thing. And, so would many of us as we are all humans.
    THE PROBLEM:
    There is no checks/balances with public officials. So when public officials commit misconduct, other public officials just set them free.
    THE SOLUTION:
    We need to SPLIT the JUSTICE DEPARTMENT into to parts:
    PART A: JUSTICE DEPARTMENT investigates and prosecutes citizens.
    PART B: CITIZEN DEPARTMENT investigates and prosecutes public officials..

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