It will be be days, if not weeks, before everything is sorted out in the sad tale of Freddie Gray’s last ride. The president of the Baltimore police union, Gene Ryan, asks people to be patient with the process:
Ryan said that until all facts become clear, he “urged everyone not to rush to judgment. The facts as presented will speak for themselves. I just wish everyone would take a step back and a deep breath, and let the investigation unfold.”
Local witnesses who gave harrowing descriptions of Gray’s arrest and subsequent treatment by the police are finding that hard. Since Police Commissioner Anthony Batts has already acknowledged that the police failed to follow procedure when they didn’t put a seatbelt on Gray during his ride, citizens are understandably anxious to have some answers.
A new wrinkle has just emerged to add to the fray, reported Wednesday evening by the Washington Post (first link at top; h/t TWT). The second prisoner in the police van on the 12th — whose presence has been reported previously by numerous sources — is said to have told a police investigator that he heard Freddie Gray lurching around, apparently trying to injure himself, during the ride. The second prisoner couldn’t see Gray:
A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.
The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.
The police report described Gray as “irate” during the drive, which had to be interrupted in order to put him in leg irons:
The van driver stopped three times while transporting Gray to a booking center, the first to put him in leg irons. Batts said the officer driving the van described Gray as “irate.” The search warrant application says Gray “continued to be combative in the police wagon.”
The driver made a second stop “to check on Gray,” suggesting that he was worried about what was going on back there:
The driver made a second stop, five minutes later, and asked an officer to help check on Gray. At that stop, police have said the van driver found Gray on the floor of the van and put him back on the seat, still without restraints. Police said Gray asked for medical help at that point.
Gray wasn’t given medical help until after the van arrived at the police station some 25 minutes later. It was during those 25 minutes that the second prisoner was picked up and heard Gray banging against the walls.
One concern that must arise, given Gray’s numerous drug convictions, is whether he had used drugs before his fateful ride. According to Commissioner Batts on Wednesday, the toxicology report is still pending.
There’s no information — none that’s been made public, at any rate — on whether the second prisoner has said that he or Gray was being given a “rough ride” for some reason. That possibility, discussed by police spokesmen but not indicated by any known documentation, remains a matter of speculation.
The Baltimore Sun also addressed an Internet rumor in a Wednesday evening report: the rumor that Freddie Gray had had back surgery recently, and was pursuing a lawsuit over the injury from a car accident. The Sun‘s investigator verified the nature of a lawsuit to which Gray was a party, and determined that the suit was over lead paint exposure (and was actually dismissed by a judge in early April because neither Gray nor his sister, the co-plaintiff, appeared in court). An attorney with the firm representing the Gray family confirmed to the Sun that he had “no information or evidence” about a prior spinal injury, and dismissed the rumor out of hand.