Justice Department launches civil rights investigation into death of Freddie Gray

By Danielle Haynes
The Department of Justice said it launched a civil rights investigation into the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. File photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI
The Department of Justice said it launched a civil rights investigation into the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. File photo by Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI | License Photo

BALTIMORE, April 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday launched a civil rights investigation into the death of a man whose neck was broken while in custody of Baltimore police.

Freddie Gray, 25, died Sunday, one week after he was arrested.


William Murphy, a lawyer for Gray's family, said Gray's spine was 80 percent severed at the neck while in police custody.

He added Gray was healthy before his arrest "without any evidence he had committed a crime," and that "his take-down and arrest without probable cause occurred under a police video camera, which taped everything including the police dragging and throwing Freddy into a police vehicle while he screamed in pain."

Police have not specified the reason for his arrest or offered a cause for his injuries, citing an ongoing investigation.


Justice Department Spokeswoman Dena W. Iverson announced the federal investigation Tuesday.

"The Department of Justice has been monitoring the developments in Baltimore, Md., regarding the death of Freddie Gray. Based on preliminary information, the Department of Justice has officially opened this matter and is gathering information to determine whether any prosecutable civil rights violation occurred," she said in a statement.

The incident provoked demonstrations at a police station by about 100 people over two days, demanding to know the details of Gray's arrest and death.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake promised a response Sunday, saying, "How was Mr. Gray injured? Were our proper protocols and procedures actually followed? What are the next steps? Right now, we're still collecting details surrounding the incident, but I want our residents to know that we will get the answers."

Police will organize a task force to investigate, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said. The six officers involved in the incident were suspended with pay Monday pending the outcome of the investigation.

The Baltimore Police Department on Tuesday released the names of the officers who have been suspended:

-- Lt. Brian Rice, 41, with the BPD since 1997   -- Sgt. Alicia White, 30, with the BPD since 2010   -- Officer William Porter, 25, with the BPD since 2012   -- Officer Garrett Miller, 26, with the BPD since 2012   -- Officer Edward Nero, 29, with the BPD since 2012   -- Officer Caesar Goodson, 45, with the BPD since 1999


Batts said the results of the investigation would be submitted to the state attorney for Baltimore, Marilyn J. Mosby, for possible prosecution.

A timeline of events, prepared by police, indicated Gray was stopped on the morning of April 12 by four bicycle officers for an undisclosed offense, and that Gray ran from them. He was caught and restrained, and conscious when he was put into a police van.

Medics were called after the van reached the nearby police station, and Gray was hospitalized immediately thereafter.

"We have no evidence -- physical, video or statements -- of any use of force, and all of the officers insist that none was used," the deputy police commissioner, Jerry Rodriguez, said at a news conference. "He did suffer a very tragic injury to his spinal cord, which resulted in his death. What we don't know, and what we need to get to, is how that injury occurred."

Ed Adamczyk contributed to this report.

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