A Baltimore man has come forward to talk about his April 12 ride in a police van with Freddie Gray, saying in an interview that he heard his fellow prisoner briefly making noise on the other side of a metal barrier.
"All I heard was a little banging for like four seconds," 22-year-old Donte Allen told local NBC affiliate WBAL. "I just heard a little banging."
Gray suffered spinal injuries while in custody, and died a week later. His death sparked citywide protests that devolved into rioting and looting Monday.
Allen's account, given in an interview on the street with WBAL reporter Jayne Miller, differs slightly from the one described in a report in the Washington Post. Citing police documents, the newspaper quoted a prisoner telling investigators he could hear Gray "banging against the walls" and that he believed Gray "was intentionally trying to injure himself."
The quotes came from an application for a search warrant that was sealed by court order but provided to the newspaper under condition that the witness not be named. Allen appears to be that prisoner; police have said that only two prisoners were in the van during the April 12 ride through West Baltimore.
Asked if he told police that he heard Gray banging his head against the van, Allen provided WBAL with a conflicting reply: "I told homicide that. I don't work for the police. I didn't tell the police nothing."
Even with Allen's account, it remains unclear what Gray was doing on the other side of the partition. Sources have told WBAL that Gray was unconscious by the time that Allen was loaded inside.
Allen told WBAL that when the van reached a West Baltimore police station, he heard officers saying Gray didn't have a pulse. "They were calling his name, 'Mr. Gray, Mr. Gray, ''' and he wasn't responsive," Allen said.
Police have said that Gray should have received medical attention before he was loaded into the van, and that police employees failed to give him timely help “multiple times.” Gray also was not secured in a seat belt while in the van, police said.
WBAL reported that an autopsy of Gray showed no evidence that Gray hit his head against anything on his own, and that his neck and spinal injuries were similar to those suffered by people in car accidents.
A Washington D.C. television station, WJLA, citing law enforcement sources, reported Thursday that the Baltimore police investigation found no evidence that gray’s fatal injuries were caused during the videotaped arrest and interaction with police officers. The sources told the station that 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.
The police department has handed its findings to the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether anyone will face criminal charges.
Gray was first placed in the police van following a foot chase that began at the corner of North Avenue and Mount Street in West Baltimore, police have said. Officers made "eye contact" with him, and Gray took off running. The officers caught up to him, and allegedly found a switch blade on him. A witness' cell phone video shows Gray's legs going limp as he's placed into the van.
Inside, police said Gray became "irate." The van made several stops, including one to put leg shackles on him, and another to pick up another prison, police have said.
After arriving at the station, Gray was taken to a hospital, where he underwent spinal surgery. He died April 19.