An ABC news affiliate reported Thursday afternoon that the injuries which ultimately killed Freddie Gray took place inside a police van and not during his arrest. It remains unclear whether those injuries were the result of a failure to secure Gray with a seat belt or caused by some actions of the police officers involved.
WJLA TV’s Brad Bell spoke to sources who had been briefed on the final report which Baltimore police turned over to the state’s attorney Thursday. According to Bell, police concluded that the injures which killed Freddie Gray did not happen during his arrest. Instead, they found an injury on Gray’s head which matched a specific bolt sticking out of the inside of the van.
Bell acted out the series of events which the police report paints as happening inside the van: Gray was handcuffed and, after a stop, his legs were shackled. That left him bent over at the waist and because he was not secured by a seat belt he may have fallen headfirst into the exposed bolt.
There has been speculation that police officers were intentionally giving Gray a “rough ride” also known as a nickel ride. By not buckling an arrested individual and then driving fast and braking sharply, officers could inflict injuries without ever using their hands or a weapon.
The NY Times reports that two other Baltimore men had been seriously injured during “rough rides.” One of the men, Jeffrey Alston, was paralyzed from the neck down and eventually received a $6 million settlement from the city.
Six police officers have been put on leave since the incident involving Freddie Gray. Five of those officers have been questioned by police, but one, the driver of the van, has declined an interview. While the driver would not speak, a relative did speak to CNN saying, “He believes that Freddie Gray was injured outside the paddy wagon.” That conclusion, apparently at odds with the police report, would be exculpatory for the driver since it would mean the fatal injury happened prior to any “rough ride.”
Adding to the confusion about when Freddie Gray was injured and why, a story published Wednesday by the Washington Post reveals there was another prisoner in the van with Gray for part of the ride. The Post reports that this prisoner, who is now in jail, heard Gray banging against the walls of the van and believed he was “intentionally trying to injure himself.”