Po­lice ad­mit Bal­ti­more man needed ur­gent med­i­cal help

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY ROBERT MACPHER­SON

Po­lice in Bal­ti­more ac­knowl­edged Fri­day that an African-Amer­i­can man who died from in­juries ap­par­ently sus­tained in cus­tody should have re­ceived im­me­di­ate med­i­cal help when he was ar­rested.

Ten­sions are sim­mer­ing in the blue-col­lar Mid-At­lantic port city of 620,000 af­ter 25-year-old Fred­die Gray died Sun­day from a se­vere spinal cord in­jury, a week af­ter he was ap­pre­hended for rea­sons that are still un­known.

Protests have taken place nightly out­side the city’s West­ern Dis­trict po­lice sta­tion and or­ga­niz­ers ex­pect 10,000 peo­ple to join a march Satur­day through down­town.

In a press con­fer­ence, Deputy Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kevin Davis said three of­fi­cers — one on foot, the other on bi­cy­cles — had given chase to Gray and an­other man over sev­eral blocks on April 12.

They caught up with Gray out­side a crime-rid­den public hous­ing project, where cell­phone video recorded by by­standers showed him be­ing pinned to the ground, howl­ing in ap­par­ent pain.

“That’s where the ap­pre­hen­sion of Fred­die Gray oc­curred and, quite frankly, that’s ex­actly where Fred­die Gray should have re­ceived med­i­cal at­ten­tion and he did not,” said Davis, who is over­see­ing the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Gray was then seen hus­tled into a po­lice van that made sev­eral stops en route to the West­ern Dis­trict po­lice sta­tion, from where an am­bu­lance rushed him to a shock trauma unit.

He died seven days later with 80 per­cent of his spine sev­ered at the neck, lawyers for his fam­ily have said. His fu­neral is sched­uled for Mon­day.

Lit­tle is known about what hap­pened dur­ing the van ride, but po­lice have said that Gray — who was due in court this week on an ear­lier drug-re­lated of­fense — was not buck­led into his seat, con­trary to pol­icy.

Six of­fi­cers have been suspended with pay as the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion inches closer to a May 1 dead­line to sub­mit find­ings to a Mary­land state pros­e­cu­tor, who could de­cide to press charges.

Fears for Week­end

Gray’s death is the lat­est in a string of high- pro­file con­fronta- tions — in­clud­ing the fa­tal shoot­ing of un­armed teenager Michael Brown in Au­gust — that have raised ques­tions about po­lice con­duct to­wards black men and boys in the United States.

Bal­ti­more stands out, how­ever, be­cause its mayor and po­lice com­mis­sioner are African- Amer­i­can and its po­lice force has a longestab­lished rep­u­ta­tion for mis­use of force.

Po­lice Com­mis­sioner An­thony Batts, ap­pointed in Septem­ber 2012 to clean up the na­tion’s eighth-largest po­lice force, said it was un­clear to him at this stage whether Gray sus­tained his in­juries dur­ing his ar­rest or in­side the van.

“The po­ten­tial is for both of those. We don’t have that clear of a pic­ture,” Batts said, adding that full writ­ten med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s re­port is still pending.

But he promised: “If some­one harmed Fred­die Gray, we will have to pros­e­cute him.”

Go­ing into the week­end, Batts ex­pressed con­cern that pro­test­ers from out­side Bal­ti­more might try to dis­rupt what have so far been largely peace­ful demon­stra­tions.

“To any and all that would seek to bring chaos to our city, the peo­ple of Bal­ti­more will not tol­er­ate you hurt­ing our com­mu­nity where we live, where we wor­ship and where our kids go to school,” he said.

AP

Bal­ti­more Mayor Stephanie Rawl­ings-Blake speaks in front of lo­cal faith lead­ers at a news con­fer­ence re­gard­ing the death of Fred­die Gray, in Bal­ti­more, Mary­land on Fri­day, April 24.

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