Freddie Gray (1989-2015) was a Black American man killed by police in Baltimore, Maryland. In West Baltimore, in fact, the very Black neighbourhood shown in “The Wire” (2002-2008). While the police investigate themselves, six police officers are on paid leave:
- Lt. Brian Rice,
- Sgt. Alicia White,
- Officer William Porter,
- Officer Garrett Miller,
- Officer Edward Nero and
- Officer Caesar Goodson Jr
On the morning of April 12th 2015, the police looked at Gray and he ran. A friend says Gray has a history of being beat up by police. The police went after him, on bicycles and on foot. They arrested him for running from police. Not a crime.
The police searched Gray and found a knife, a spring-loaded switchblade, which they say is illegal.
Police say they arrested Gray “without force or incident.” Yet when they arrived at the police station 30 minutes later, after taking a round-about way, he was in “serious medical distress” – meaning he could no longer talk or breathe.
Meaning his voicebox was crushed and his spine broken in three places.
What witnesses said:
“They were taking their black batons, whatever they are, and hitting him.”
“They had him folded up like he was a crab or a piece of origami. He was all bent up.”
“Police were telling everyone to leave because they didn’t want anyone taping. They got real smart and nasty.”
One witness said an officer came down on Gray’s neck with his knee.
Gray was screaming in pain. Onlookers said, “Call the ambulance!”, “Call the paramedics!” Something the police did not do for another 30 minutes.
In one citizen video Gray’s legs do not seem to work. The police said it was an act.
He slipped into a coma. A week later, on April 19th, he died of spinal injuries.
Not yet made public:
- video from a police camera that overlooks the scene.
- audio from what the police told dispatchers.
Protests: Growing protests have followed Gray’s death. On Saturday April 25th, police and protesters faced off in the centre of Baltimore for all the world to see. Some protesters broke windows of shops and police cars.
- The (Black) mayor was “profoundly disappointed” – at the protesters, not the police.
- The (White) president of the police union was “offended”. He compared the protests to a “lynching”, saying that police officers have constitutional rights, like the right to due process. And not being arrested unfairly.
Riots broke out in West Baltimore today, April 27th. The governor called out the National Guard.
Police brutality in Baltimore:
- Since 2011, the Baltimore police department has paid $5.7 million to settle over 100 lawsuits dealing with police brutality and other misconduct.
- Just last year they beat Tyrone West to death after a routine traffic stop.
- The police will turn over their findings in the Gray case to the state this Friday (May 1st).
- The state of Maryland can then carry out its own investigation.
- The US Justice Department is looking into whether Gray’s civil rights were violated. They did the same for Michael Brown and found nothing.
– Abagond, 2015.
Update (May 1st): Marilyn Mosby, the city prosecutor, charged all six police officers with crimes, one of them with “second degree depraved heart murder”.
Update (May 4th): That bit about the knife turned out to be a police lie. Gray had a pocketknife (legal), not a large, switchblade knife (illegal).
Update (June 25th): The medical examiner ruled Gray’s death a homicide. His death was caused by police not following proper procedures to ensure his safety (they gave him a “rough ride”).
Update (September 30th): The city will pay Gray’s family $6.4 million in damages. That is huge by the city’s standards. It does not affect the criminal cases against the officers.
The mayor says she will not run for re-election next year.
Update (December 14th): Closing arguments in the trial of the first of the six officers, William Porter, took place today. The jury will probably come to a decision sometime today or tomorrow, though it could be later in the week.
Update (May 24th 2016): The Porter jury deadlocked. He will be retried in September. In May a second officer was tried, Edward Nero. He got off.
Update (June 24th 2016): Caesar Goodson, the driver of the police van, the very one who is believed to have given Gray the “rough ride”, the only one charged with murder, who found not guilty on all charges.
Update (July 27th 2016): The three remaining officers have been let off. More.
- officers put on trial:
- Baltimore power structure
- #CVSmatters – the riot and Obama’s reaction
- The extremely incomplete list of unarmed Blacks killed by police
- The Wire
- the police
- slave patrols