Lawyer: Man Dies After Spine Severed in Police Custody

Family lawyer says Freddie Gray died from spinal injury after cop encounter
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2015 10:56 AM CDT
Md. Man Dies After Spine Severed in Police Custody
Citizens and groups such as the Justice League NYC protest against the police following the death of Freddie Gray, Sunday, April 19, 2015, in Baltimore.   (Algerina Perna/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

The family lawyer of a Baltimore man who died yesterday says his spine was 80% severed at his neck while in police custody, NBC News reports. The death of Freddie Gray (variously reported as 25 or 27) is raising red flags due to a lack of details and a gap in the police timeline that has Gray's family demanding a full investigation into his arrest April 12. Police still haven't said what crime Gray was suspected of or what caused his injuries, the Baltimore Sun reports. Snippets of cellphone videos on WBAL show Gray, said to have ran from police when they approached, being dragged to a police van after he was caught; a WBAL reporter notes he appeared to be moving and talking then. But Gray appears to scream in a different video on CNN, and an off-camera woman yells at cops dragging his limp body, "That boy's legs look broke!"

It gets murkier. Per a police timeline on CBS Baltimore, Gray was taken into custody at 8:40am, put into additional restraints at 8:54am (cops say they have surveillance video of him still conscious and talking at that point), then transported to a station house; at 9:24am, an ambulance was called. Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said at a press conference that after viewing "several angles of the arrest," per the New York Daily News, he doesn't think excessive force inside the van could have caused Gray's injuries. Meanwhile, that half-hour gap weighs on his family's mind. "We believe the police are keeping the circumstances of Freddie's death secret until they develop a version of events that will absolve them of all responsibility," the family lawyer said, per NBC. The four officers involved are now on administrative duty, per CBS; CNN notes a press conference is set for today. (More Baltimore stories.)

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