A leaked police document that claims Freddie Gray was “intentionally trying to injure himself” while in the back of a police van in Baltimore after his arrest is being questioned due to inconsistencies with earlier reports.
Gray died a week after his videotaped April 12 arrest due to injuries sustained under uncertain circumstances while in police custody, sparking protests in Baltimore and around the nation.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday night that a prisoner who was in the van with Gray allegedly told investigators he could hear Gray "banging against the walls" of the police vehicle, and said he believed Gray was "intentionally trying to injure himself," according to a document written by a Baltimore police investigator.
The initial shock of the report quickly transitioned to uncertainty and skepticism after questions were raised over the details. WBAL's Jayne Miller told MSNBC that the Post’s story was “inconsistent with what we reported.”
“We have reported for some time that by the time that prisoner is loaded into that van, Freddie Gray was unresponsive. Secondly we have no medical evidence that Freddie Gray suffered any injury that would indicate that he had injured himself,” Miller told MSNBC's Chris Hayes on Wednesday night.
Gray was only in the van with the second prisoner for the final five minutes of the ride, Miller told Lawrence O’Donnell on Wednesday evening. There is “no evidence [Gray was] banging [his] head against van,” Miller tweeted. Jane Cook, an attorney for the Gray family, called the report “speculation” as she had seen no evidence supporting it.
Jason Downs, another attorney of the Gray's, told the Post the prisoner's statement was new to them.
"We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord," Downs said. "We question the accuracy of the police reports we’ve seen thus far, including the police report that says Mr. Gray was arrested without force or incident."
While the timeline of Gray’s arrest remains incomplete, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said that before the second prisoner was loaded into the van, an officer had to “pick [Gray] up off the floor and place him on the seat.” Police said he asked for medical attention at this point. He had earlier been placed in leg irons after an officer felt he was becoming "irate," police said.
Police also admitted Gray was handcuffed but not secured with a seat belt while being transported.
Miller also pointed out that on April 23, Commissioner Batts said that the second prisoner had said Gray was “mostly quiet.”
Another issue that arose from the Post’s report was the fact that the second prisoner was unable to see Gray, as he would have been separated by a metal partition in the van. The prisoner who allegedly gave the account is in jail, and the Post has not been able to reach him for comment.
His identity has been withheld.
The affidavit obtained by the Post was in an application for a search warrant seeking the seizure of the uniform worn by one of the officers involved in the episode with Gray. The document is part of the investigation into Gray’s death, and the police investigator who wrote it is unnamed.
As the Post notes, there is no other evidence supporting the purported claims of the second prisoner. There is no video of his time in the van either.
As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow said on Wednesday night, the leak to the Washington Post is the first information we have seen of the investigation into Gray’s death. “Leaks like this always serve somebody’s purpose,” Maddow said, “We have no idea who gave this to the Post.”
Police have maintained that they do not know how Gray suffered the fatal injury, and have been joined in their investigation by the Justice Department. Police Commissioner Batts has admitted to mistakes in how Gray’s arrest was handled, saying he should have received medical attention and that he should have been secured while in the back of the police van.
Baltimore residents have been joined by others nationwide in their demands for answers of how what happened to Gray during and after his arrest on April 12 for a weapons charge. Gray was pinned down by the officers making the arrest, and then loaded into the police vehicle for transport while conscious. When he arrived at the station, a medic was called and Gray was taken to the hospital. He died a week later. Gray “gave up without the use of force, “ Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said. None of the six officers involved in the arrest described using force with Gray. A cell phone video showed officers dragging gray while handcuffed towards the police van. Video showed Gray on the ground conscious and talking, and police said he requested medical attention.
The six officers involved with the arrest were suspended, and their names released last week.
The police are to conclude their investigation into Gray’s arrest and death on May 1, and will then give the case to the state’s attorney office. Their findings will not be made public immediately.