News broke Wednesday that a second prisoner in the Baltimore police transport van with Freddie Gray reported that he heard Gray slamming himself around inside the vehicle in order to “injure himself.” Now that prisoner has gone public with his story.
The tidbit of information was released by The Washington Post on Wednesday from a leaked document that was part of the internal investigation being conducted by the Baltimore police.
The document revealed that a prisoner who was also in the police van heard Gray slamming himself around and told police that he felt Gray was “trying to injure himself.” The prisoner only heard the din because he was separated from Gray by a solid steel partition.
The Post story did not name this second prisoner, but now that man has come forward and has revealed himself to be West Baltimore resident Donta Allen.
Allen says that he was picked up by police on April 12 on suspicion of shoplifting. When police ushered him into the van, Freddie Gray was already in his section of the vehicle.
“When I got in the van, I didn’t hear nothing,” Allen said. “It was a smooth ride. We went straight to the police station. All I heard was a little banging for about four seconds. I just heard little banging, just little banging.”
Allen went on to say that when police asked him further questions that day, he told them he doesn’t work for them so he wouldn’t tell them anything more.
Medical experts say that Gray’s body did not have the sort of injuries that might suggest he bashed his head repeatedly on the walls of the van, but that his injury is more indicative of a sudden impact like that from a car accident.
Allen went on to tell the media what happened once they arrived at the station. “When we got to the police station,” he said, “they said he didn’t have no pulse or nothing. They called his name, ‘Mr. Gray, Mr. Gray.’ And he wasn’t responsive.”
The New York Times spun its story as a tale of police brutality saying that the Baltimore police have a “tradition” of giving perps a rough ride in the police wagons—what the Times called a “nickel ride.”
But importantly, Allen did not claim himself that the police abused Gray or that the ride was unusually rough.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.