By now, all of America has heard of Freddie Gray’s tragic death. Freddie Gray, a 25-year old Baltimore black man suffered a severe spine injury during his arrest and died one week later from his injuries. We do not know for certain at this time whether Mr. Gray suffered his fatal injury during the initial arrest by six police officers or during a forty minute ride in a police van.
A video shows Mr. Gray, screaming in pain, while dragged by two police officers to a police van. During the last ten days, Baltimore has seen peaceful protests and dangerous riots. Once more, our country is debating the police treatment of minorities. We need to know what happened to Mr. Gray.
CNN affiliate WJLA reported from multiple law enforcement sources that Freddie Gray suffered his fatal injury during his ride in the police van and not from his initial arrest. The sources indicated that the medical examiner had reported—Gray’s death was the result of a fatal injury caused by hitting the back of the police van during his forty minute ride, “apparently breaking his neck; a head injury he sustained matches a bolt in the back of the van.”
Freddie Gray was handcuffed before placed into the police van. The police have admitted during one of their four stops that he was also put in leg restraints. The police have revealed that Mr. gray was not seat-belted during his ride which was a violation of Baltimore police department policy. He was not offered medical assistance despite several requests and the police officers never called for an ambulance.
It is very possible that Mr. Gray was fatally injured during a dangerous ride in a police van. You have to remember that not only was he handcuffed, but his legs were chained. Since Freddie Gray was not seat belted, he would have been completely helpless during an intentional or negligent “Rough Police” ride.
I had a somewhat similar experience during a prison bus ride from Baltimore to a Hagerstown prison. Before the inmates were placed on the bus, we all were handcuffed, and our ankles were shackled, and the ankle shackles were connected to a chain around our waist. It was difficult, but I could shuffle onto the prison bus. The bus was only half filled and I had a seat to myself. As with most buses, there were no seat belts. The correctional officers at the front section of the bus blasted their music and we started a wild ride after the prison bus left Baltimore. Because of the restraints, I was unable to hold onto my seat or the seat in front of me.
The correctional officer drove the prison bus way too fast on a curve and I went flying off my seat, hitting the seat across from me, and I ended up on the bus floor between the seats. Fortunately, I was only bruised, but I could not stand up because of the shackles and handcuffs. I could not go back to my seat. A few of the inmates yelled at the correctional officers to help me, but they could not hear them because of the loud music. I still do not know how, but a kind young black inmate was able to pick me up by the chain around my waist and he placed me back on my bus seat. Other than injured pride, I had only a few bruises, and a funny prison story.
Freddie Gray’s story is not funny. If he died from injuries that occurred during the police van ride, his death was the result of intentional or negligent actions by the police officers. Intentional, if the involved police officers decided to give a “Rough Ride” to Freddie Gray, or police negligence based on their admissions and violations of police department policies.
We can only hope that Baltimore and all of the United States hears the truth about the tragic death of Freddie Gray.
By: Bradley Schwartz
Founder of prisonpath.com