US officers suspended after black custody death
Several Baltimore police officers have been suspended after an African American man died of spinal cord injuries in police custody, police said Monday, pledging to thoroughly investigate the incident.
Freddie Gray, 25, who died Sunday, was arrested on April 12 without force and was later charged with possession of a switchblade knife, according to a police report.
Police vowed to look into how Gray died and said they would set up an independent review board to assess the investigation, due to be completed next Friday.
The investigation is focusing on how Gray died after an autopsy confirmed spinal injuries.
“None of his limbs were broken. He did suffer a very tragic injury to his spinal cord, which resulted in his death,” said deputy police commissioner Jerry Rodriguez, adding that the officers were suspended.
“What we don’t know, and what we need to get to, is how that injury occurred.”
Local NBC television affiliate WBAL reported six officers had been suspended.
A video of the arrest shows police restraining Gray on a sidewalk, then dragging him to a police van while he yells in pain.
Rodriguez said Gray had requested an inhaler after he was arrested and that he became “irate” while sitting in a police van.
Paramedics were called 42 minutes after Gray asked for his inhaler, according to a timeline provided by police.
Police confirmed that Gray had requested medical attention, but would not say when.
The case is the latest in a series of deaths that critics say demonstrates officers’ racial bias and excessive use of force.
The incident sparked protests in Baltimore, with about 100 local residents and activists gathered outside a local police station Sunday demanding more information.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said policies regarding transportation of suspects and providing medical attention were being reviewed following Gray’s death.
He said the officers did not appear to use unnecessary force during Gray’s arrest, but said they would continue to investigate their conduct.
“If we find a procedure or a process handled incorrectly, we’ll hold people accountable for that,” Batts told reporters.