An autopsy report obtained by the Baltimore Sun concludes that Freddie Gray’s death was a non-accidental homicide after he suffered a “high-energy” injury to his neck and spine while in the Baltimore police van transporting him after his arrest in April.
The Maryland state medical examiner’s report claims the officers did not follow proper safety procedures “through acts of omission” while transporting Gray. According to the report, Gray probably sustained his injury after the van suddenly decelerated.
Gray was reportedly put into the van on his belly, with his hands and feet in cuffs, but likely got onto his feet while the van was moving and was thrown against the van’s walls as it moved quickly, with sharp turns along the way. Gray was not buckled in, a violation of police codes. Given all this, the report claims that he was put “at risk of an unsupported fall during acceleration or deceleration of the van.”
The autopsy is not yet publicly available.
Gray, 25, was arrested in April by Baltimore police after fleeing at the sight of officers — he was later found to have a knife. After being arrested, Gray sustained severe spinal and neck injuries allegedly while in a police van and his requests for medical attention were ignored. He died a week later of his injuries, prompting protests and rioting in Baltimore by residents enraged with continued police brutality.
Six police officers were charged in Gray’s death in early May, with charges ranging from second-degree murder to “depraved heart” murder. Sgt. Alicia White, Lt. Brian Rice and Officers Caesar Goodson, Edward Nero, Garrett Miller and William Porter have all pleaded not guilty to their respective charges, the Associated Press reported.
The autopsy report was completed at the end of April, the Sun said. The deadline for releasing evidence to defense lawyers in the officers’ case is Friday, the Sun reported.
In a statement to the Sun, State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said she “strongly condemn(s)” anyone leaking evidence about the trial before the case is resolved. The Baltimore police union’s president, Lt. Gene Ryan, echoed Mosby’s statement to the Sun.
“Why not wait till all the facts are in before you make a decision?” he asked. “Let’s just sit back and take a breath and let’s see everything unfold. I want to see all the evidence come out, because I believe our guys have nothing to hide.”
Original reports of Gray’s death found that he died of a head wound sustained from a bolt sticking out within the van carriage. At the time, his injuries were categorized as consistent with those in high-speed car crashes; the new report compares Gray’s injuries to those sustained in shallow-water diving accidents.
The autopsy includes details leading up to and after Gray’s time in the van, the Sun reported, using witness statements, videos and details about the van. Assistant Medical Examiner Carol H. Allan wrote in the autopsy that it was “not an unforeseen event that a vulnerable individual was injured during operation of the vehicle and that without prompt medical attention, the injury would prove fatal.”
According to the autopsy, when Gray was admitted to Maryland Shock Trauma Center he tested positive for opiates and cannabinoid.
After Gray was arrested, he cried out in pain as officers took him to the van, bystander video showed. Gray was initially loaded onto a bench running along the wall of the van before it set out for the police station, making five stops along the way, according to the Sun.
The autopsy speculates that Gray sustained his most significant injury, on the lower left part of his head, between the second and fourth stops, possibly before the third stop.
Allan wrote in the autopsy that at the fourth stop, at Dolphin Street and Druid Hill Avenue, Goodson, who drove the van, asked for assistance from Porter.
“The assisting officer opened the doors and observed Mr. Gray lying belly down on the floor with his head facing the cabin compartment, and reportedly he was asking for help, saying he couldn’t breathe, couldn’t get up, and needed a medic,” the report said. “The officer assisted Mr. Gray to the bench and the van continued on its way.”
Allan also addressed the court filing of a second passenger in the van who reported hearing Gray making considerable noise through the metal divider, saying this was not possible given his injuries, the Sun reported. However, Allan wrote that it is possible that Gray suffered a seizure.