A Baltimore man has died just days after his spinal cord was nearly severed following a violent altercation with local police. His death has spurred a criminal investigation by city officials.
According to a family attorney, 25-year-old Freddie Gray was chased by police officers last week for no apparent reason, though police reports claim that Gray was carrying a switchblade. Both dash cam and cell phone footage show four officers arresting Gray and dragging him to a nearby police van.
Paramedics were called to the police department after the van’s arrival (about 30 minutes after Gray's arrest), but police haven't said what prompted the call. According to medical records, Gray suffered a back injury that resulted in three broken vertebrae and a spine that was 80 percent severed. He was taken to a local hospital, where he slipped into a coma and later underwent extensive surgery, but he died yesterday afternoon.
"We believe the police are keeping the circumstances of Freddie's death a secret until they develop a version of events that will absolve them of all responsibility," Gray's family said in a statement. In the police report, officers wrote that the arrest happened "without force or incident."
Gray’s death and the subsequent silence from police officials, who’ve yet to release an official statement, has sparked outrage among local residents and has resulted in a criminal investigation by Baltimore officials. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told MSNBC that the city is launching a probe into the department, and she promised the family that she would get to the bottom of the incident.
"I'm interested in making sure that we don't have what has happened in other jurisdictions where, from outside eyes, it looks like the officers have gotten together and put together a story," she said earlier today on MSNBC.