Injury on head of man whose death sparked Baltimore riots matched a bolt in the back of police van, according to local ABC news station
Freddie Gray sustained his fatal injuries inside a police van when his head slammed into a bolt in the back of the vehicle, a Baltimore TV news station has reported after claiming to have received multiple briefings on a police report and the interim findings of the medical examiner’s office reviewing the 25-year-old’s death.
An injury on Gray’s head is said to have matched a bolt in the back of the police van, according to ABC local news, who also reported that the only police officer involved in Gray’s arrest and detention yet to have provided an account to the police was the van’s driver.
A spokesman for the Maryland medical examiner’s office refused to comment on the reports, stating that its investigation remained open.
Many questions remain over Gray’s death, with some speculating he was subjected to a so-called “rough ride”, where a prisoner is not placed in a seatbelt and is then thrown violently around a vehicle being driven erratically.
Police have conceded that Gray was not put in a seatbelt at the time he was placed in the vehicle, in violation of standard procedure.
The report comes as police revealed a previously undisclosed stop made by the van after Gray’s arrest had been discovered by investigators, and senior officers announced they had completed a criminal inquiry into his death.
Details of what happened during the stop may shed new light on how Gray sustained fatal injuries in police custody. It was the second of four made by the vehicle on its journey to the western district police headquarters.
Gray was taken from the police station to hospital with a broken neck. He died on 19 April, prompting a wave of protests over police brutality.
“The second stop has been revealed to us in the course of our investigation and was previously unknown to us,” Baltimore deputy police commissioner Kevin Davis said at a press conference. Davis said the stop was filmed by a private CCTV camera.
The video footage of the previously undisclosed van stop was filmed by cameras above the entrance to CR Grocery, a shop on the corner of the two streets mentioned by police.
Jung Hwang, the owner of the shop, told the Guardian on Thursday that detectives visited him one day last week following Gray’s death and appeared to take copies of the footage that was stored on his laptop computer.
However, the shop was then looted during Monday’s unrest, said the shop owner, who is Korean and speaks little English. “The laptop was stolen,” he said.
Hwang said he did not see what the footage showed and did not know the vehicle had stopped outside on 12 April because the shop was closed. A friend who spoke English and called 911 to report the looting confirmed the shopkeeper’s account.
Groceries were strewn around the back room of Hwang’s shop on Thursday. Cables hung from the two surveillance cameras, which had apparently been disconnected.
News of the discovery was disclosed as police said they had completed their inquiry a day before a self-imposed deadline and passed their file to Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore. Mosby will now decide whether or not to bring criminal prosecutions.
Six officers involved in Gray’s arrest were suspended during the investigation.
Anthony Batts, the Baltimore police commissioner, said detectives were still seeking any new information about what happened to Gray.
“We have exhausted every lead at this time but that does not mean that the investigation is over. If new information or direction is given by the state attorney we will follow it,” Batts said.
“I understand the frustration and I understand a sense of urgency. I also know that getting to the right answer is more important than speed. And know the state attorney is committed.”
Davis said the previously unknown stop by the police van had been at the intersection of North Fremont Avenue and West Mosher Street. “Again, that’s new to us,” he said.
“We discovered this new stop based on our thorough and comprehensive and ongoing review of all CCTV cameras and privately owned cameras and in fact this new stop was discovered from a privately owned camera,” said Davis.
In a statement confirming she had received the police department’s file on Gray’s death, Mosby said her office had been conducting its own independent inquiry.
“While we have and will continue to leverage the information received by the department, we are not relying solely on their findings but rather the facts that we have gathered and verified,” she said.
Offering no indication of when she planned to announce a decision, Mosby asked those awaiting it to “trust the process of the justice system” while remaining “patient and peaceful”.
In a statement, mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake urged the city to “remain patient and vigilant on this path to justice” while prosecutors considered the police report.
“The family of Mr Gray wants answers. I want answers. Our entire city deserves answers into Mr Gray’s death,” she said.