Mayor 'Angry' About Man's Unexplained Death After Arrest

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
Mayor 'Angry' About Man's Unexplained Death After Arrest
Freddie Gray, pictured in this undated photo, died Sunday, one week after he was arrested in Baltimore.

Baltimore officials said today they share residents' frustration with the lack of answers for why Freddie Gray, whose family says he was injured during his arrest last week by Baltimore police, died Sunday.

"This is a very, very tense time for Baltimore city," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said at a news conference this afternoon. "And I understand the community's frustration. I understand it because I'm frustrated. I'm angry that we are here again. That we have had to tell another mother that their child is dead.

"I'm frustrated that not only that we're here but we don't have all of the answers."

Rawlings-Blake complimented the city's "peaceful demonstrations" and added that officials are "moving as quickly as possible to determine exactly how his death occurred." The six officers involved are suspended with pay, as per policy, according to Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.

Officials agreed with the family that Gray suffered a spinal injury but don't how or when.

Gray "clung to life for seven days" before he died Sunday, according to his family's attorney.

Gray was a "healthy" man when he was "chased" by police last Sunday "without any evidence he had committed a crime," William Murphy Jr., an attorney for Gray's family, said.

Baltimore police said Gray, 25, had been trying to flee from officers.

Gray "fled unprovoked upon noticing police presence" and was apprehended after a brief foot chase, according to the charging document.

"This officer noticed a knife clipped to the inside of his front right pants pocket. The defendant was arrested without force or incident. The knife was recovered," the charging document said.

But Mayor Rawlings-Blake said today, "We know that having a knife is not necessarily a crime. It is not necessarily probable cause to chase someone. So we still have questions."

Cellphone video appeared to capture Gray screaming as officers dragged him to a police van.

"His take-down and arrest without probable cause occurred under a police video camera, which taped everything including the police dragging and throwing Freddie into a police vehicle while he screamed in pain," Murphy said in a statement to ABC News.

The charging document also states that during transport, Gray suffered a medical emergency and was immediately transported to Shock Trauma.

"I know that when Mr. Gray was placed inside that van, he was able to talk and he was upset," Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said at today's news conference. "And when Mr. Gray was taken out of that van, he could not talk and he could not breathe."

Gray did request medical attention, Rodriguez confirmed, but police are now trying to determine at what time. "I am deeply troubled by this," Rodriguez said.

Police say a police vehicle was requested for transport and Gray asked for an inhaler.

The driver then believed Gray was acting "irate" in the back, police said. Police stopped the vehicle and placed him in leg irons. The van driver then asked for an additional unit to check on Gray, according to police.

Deputy Police Commissioner Rodriguez said "part of what our investigation will do is identify exactly what was going on ... what was said by Gray ... what was relayed by officers ... what actions we did take or should've taken."

"What we don't have at this point is how Mr. Gray sustained those injuries," he said today, when an autopsy was being conducted.

Family lawyer Murphy said, "While in police custody, his spine was 80 percent severed at his neck. He lapsed into a coma, died, was resuscitated, stayed in a coma and last Monday, underwent extensive surgery at Shock Trauma to save his life."

The police department will conclude its investigation by next Friday, May 1, they said, and then the investigation will go to the Baltimore State's Attorney to decide whether charges will be filed.

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division is considering opening an investigation into Gray's death, sources told ABC News.

ABC News' Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.

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