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Freddie Gray Should Have Received Medical Care Before Ride in Van: Police

Freddie Gray, 25, died Sunday in police custody following an April 12 arrest on a weapons charge. A family attorney says his spine was severed.
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/ Source: NBC News

The 25-year-old black man who died of apparent spinal injuries a week after an arrest by Baltimore police officers should have received medical attention before he was loaded into a police van, police said Friday.

Officers pinned Freddie Gray to the ground on April 12 after a foot chase and then put him into a police van and drove him to the station. He died in the hospital a week later after his spine was allegedly injured at some point during the arrest.

We know he was not buckled in the transportation wagon, as he should have been. No excuses for that, period," Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said Friday. "We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times."

Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, who is involved in the investigation into Gray’s death, laid out a timeline of the arrest and transport in the police van. Davis said when police arrested Gray on Presbury Street, "quite frankly that’s exactly where Freddie Gray should have received medical attention, and he did not."

Davis said the police van stopped three times before arriving at the station. It stopped first so police could place "leg irons" on Gray, and stopped a second time "to deal with Mr. Gray, and the facts of that interaction are under investigation," Davis said.

The van stopped a third time to pick up a second prisoner and went on to the Western District police station, where an ambulance was called, Davis said. "At no point was he wearing a seat belt," while in the police van, Davis said. Police policy requires all prisoners to wear seat belts during transport.

Batts said there are "multiple gaps that we're focusing on that I want clear and more information." He asked that anyone who witnessed any of the three stops or might have video of the van stopping to contact investigators.

Batts said one of the six officers who was involved with the arrest has refused to give a statement, while the rest have given their version of events. The officers are on paid suspension during the police department and federal investigations.

Batts acknowledged during the news conference that in the midst of large but peaceful protests over Gray’s death, some have called for his resignation. "That’s not going to happen," he said.

After meeting with protesters earlier Friday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake demanded answers to questions concerning Gray’s death. "This is absolutely unacceptable, and I want answers," she said.

Rawlings-Blake said she wanted to know why none of the officers immediately called for medical assistance and why "policies for transport" were not followed.

Baltimore Police Department rules, updated nine days before Gray's arrest, state that detainees must be seat belted during transportation.

"In order for us to have justice and not just seek justice, we have to respect this process," Rawlings-Blake said, referring to the Baltimore Police Department investigation into Gray's death, which is expected to be turned over to prosecutors on May 1. Batts said Friday that the investigation was “complex” and the results turned over in a week would not be complete.

The group Black Lawyers for Justice are planning a huge march and rally on Saturday, pledging a "shutdown of the city."