Baltimore mayor vows to investigate death of black man in police custody
Baltimore’s mayor promised on Tuesday officials would conduct a thorough, transparent investigation to answer questions about the death of a black man in police custody.
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told CNN that she had no interest in hiding information about the death of Freddie Gray, 27, and that she would ensure that information is made public.
“We still have questions. We still don’t know exactly what happened,” she said.
Gray was arrested by white officers on April 12 and died on Sunday after slipping into a coma. A preliminary autopsy report said he died from a spinal injury.
His death is the latest incident to raise questions about the treatment of minorities by U.S. police and has sparked protests in the largely black city. Six officers have been suspended in the incident, much of which was captured on a surveillance camera and a bystander’s cellphone.
Rawlings-Blake said that when Gray was put into a police van to be transported to a station, he was dragged by officers but was able to use his legs to get in the vehicle.
“So we know that he was able bodied when he was in the van and we know that when he was finally taken out of the van, he was unresponsive,” she said.
“We know that he asked for medical attention. We know that medical attention was not immediately requested for him. We know that was a mistake.”
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told a news conference on Monday that a police investigation would be concluded by May 1 and the results turned over to state prosecutors. The investigation itself would undergo an outside review, he said.
Rawlings-Blake, who is black, said Baltimore had a “very challenging history” regarding police misconduct and brutality.
“I’m fighting to bring back the trust between the police and the community,” she said.
Spurred by the death, Baltimore police are instituting training and reforms on transporting suspects and their medical treatment.
The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a separate review of complaints about Baltimore police, at Batts’ request. It followed a Baltimore Sun newspaper investigation that found the city had paid almost $6 million since 2011 to settle more than 100 lawsuits alleging police brutality and other misconduct.
(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzalez; Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Bill Trott)