Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Justice Dept. Opens Investigation Into Death of Freddie Gray

Freddie Gray death in Baltimore police custody sparks Justice Department investigation

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A still from a cellphone video of the arrest of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. CBS Baltimore
BALTIMORE -- The Justice Department says it has opened a federal investigation after a man died of spinal injuries he suffered after an arrest in Baltimore.
Spokeswoman Dena Iverson announced the investigation Tuesday by the department's Civil Rights Division.
The investigation will look for civil rights violations in the treatment of Freddie Gray, who was arrested April 12 and placed in a transport van.
He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition about 30 minutes later and died Sunday of what police described as a significant spinal injury.
Baltimore police have said they're looking into why Gray was stopped and what led to his injury.
In federal civil rights cases such as this one, investigators look for evidence that an officer willfully violated a person's civil rights by using unreasonable force.
CBS News correspondent Paula Reid reports that back in October, the Justice Department announced it would be looking into the Baltimore Police Department's overall use of force. This is not a "patterns and practices" investigation, like the one conducted in Ferguson, Missouri, but a collaborative effort between the city and the Justice Department's Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS). This type of investigation is usually made at the request of the city, Reid reports.
Officials said the six officers suspended in the investigation had worked on the police force anywhere from nearly two decades to three years.
The officers were identified by city officials Tuesday. They have been suspended with pay while authorities investigate Gray's death.
Gray, 25, was arrested on April 12 after police "made eye contact" with him and another man in an area known for drug activity, and the two men started running, authorities said. According to court documents, Officer Garrett Miller accused Gray of carrying a switchblade, which was discovered in Gray's pocket after he was stopped.
The lawyer for Gray's family said he believes the police had no reason to stop him in the first place.
"They've made concessions on lack of probable cause," attorney Billy Murphy said. "Running while black is not probable cause. Felony running doesn't exist, and you can't arrest someone for looking you in the eye."
The suspended officers were identified as:
- Lt. Brian Rice, 41, with the department since 1997.
- Sgt. Alicia White, 30, with the department since 2010.
- Officer Caesar Goodson, 45, who has been there since 1999.
- Officers William Porter and Edward Nero, who along with Miller, all joined in 2012.
Kim Deachilla, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, said a law firm that contracts with the union is representing them.
The officers' specific roles in the arrest were not released. Bystander video shows officers on bicycles, in patrol cars and in the transport van.
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said the reason for Gray's stop is "a question we have to dig into."
Gray's death has prompted daily protests and a vigil was planned Tuesday evening at the spot where he was arrested.
Harold Perry, 73, a retired small businessman who is nearly blind, said he heard the arrest through his bedroom window, and a young man screaming: "You're hurting me! Get your knee off my back."
He said he heard the young man say, "I'm an asthmatic."
In the bystander video, Gray is screaming, but it's not clear what he is saying. Police have also confirmed he asked for an inhaler and medical attention.
Capt. Eric Kowalczyk, a department spokesman, said Batts met with all six officers involved in Gray's arrest on Monday. The Baltimore Sun first reported the meeting.
At a news conference Monday, officials vowed transparency and pledged to hold those found responsible accountable. Batts said the investigation will be completed by May 1 and the results will be sent to the state attorney's office to determine whether criminal charges will be filed. Batts also said he is ordering that police review and rewrite "effective immediately" its policies on moving prisoners and providing them with medical attention.
"I understand the community's frustration. I understand it because I'm frustrated," Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said. "I'm angry that we are here again, that we have had to tell another mother that their child is dead."
Police on Monday released a more detailed timeline of how Gray was arrested and transported.
It revealed that Gray was placed in leg irons after an officer felt he was becoming "irate" in the back of the transport van, and that the van made several stops on its way to the police station, even picking up another prisoner in an unrelated case, after Gray had asked for medical attention several times.
© 2015 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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Justice Dept. Opens Investigation Into Death of Freddie Gray

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The Justice Department said Tuesday that it had opened an investigation into the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who was rushed to the hospital with a severed spinal cord after being chased and arrested by the police.
The investigation, announced by a department spokeswoman, Dena Iverson, will look for possible civil rights violations by the officers involved.
Mr. Gray died Sunday, a week after his arrest. Witnesses captured parts of his encounter with the police on a cellphone video, in which screams can be heard as officers drag him into a van. An autopsy showed no wounds, except for the severed spinal cord, and the video does not show the police acting forcefully. After Mr. Gray arrived at the police station, officers called medics, who took him to a hospital.
The announcement came shortly after the Baltimore Police Department identified the six officers who have been suspended in the death of Mr. Gray.
Lt. Brian Rice was the senior officer involved, and officials have said it was a lieutenant on the scene, part of a team of officers patrolling on bicycles, who made eye contact with two men — one of them Mr. Gray — before they fled on foot, prompting the officers to pursue them. Lieutenant Rice, 41, is an 18-year veteran of the department.
Officer Garrett Miller filled out the “statement of charges” for arresting Mr. Gray, accusing him of carrying a switchblade knife, clipped to the inside of his pants pocket. Officer Miller, 26, a member of the department since 2012, wrote, “The defendant was arrested without force or incident.”
The others suspended are Sgt. Alicia White, 30, who joined the department in 2010; Officer William Porter, 25, who joined in 2012; Officer Edward Nero, 29, who joined in 2012; and Police Officer Caesar Goodson, 45, who joined in 1999.
Baltimore officials have moved quickly to release information, and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts have promised a thorough and transparent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Mr. Gray’s death as they have appealed for calm.
“This is a very, very tense time for Baltimore City, and I understand the community’s frustration,” the mayor said. “I understand it because I’m frustrated. I’m angry that we are here again, that we have to tell another mother that her child is dead. I’m frustrated not only that we are here, but we don’t have all of the answers.”
Mr. Batts said the Police Department would wrap up its inquiry on May 1, and turn it over to the state’s attorney to determine whether criminal charges should be filed. Mr. Batts said Monday during a news conference that he was ordering the Police Department to review and rewrite its policies on moving prisoners and providing them with medical attention.
Police investigators said they still do not understand precisely how — or when — Mr. Gray was injured.
“We have no evidence — physical, video or statements — of any use of force,” the deputy police commissioner, Jerry Rodriguez, said at the 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.”
Ms. Rawlings-Blake has indicated that the injury probably occurred after Mr. Gray was placed in the van.
Mr. Batts conceded that officers had been slow to recognize that Mr. Gray, who apparently had asthma, needed medical attention; before he was put in the van, he asked for his inhaler, which he did not have with him.
“We should have probably asked for paramedics” sooner, the commissioner said.
The officers involved were suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.
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baltimore police - Google Search

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  1. Baltimore police identify suspended officers

    Baltimore Sun (blog)-5 hours ago
    The officers include Lieutenant Brian Rice, a member of the Baltimore Police Department since 1997. Police said Rice, 41, was the officer who ...
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    <a href="http://NBCNews.com" rel="nofollow">NBCNews.com</a>-1 hour ago
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    Man died of spinal injury after being arrested by Baltimore police

    Washington Post-8 hours ago
    BALTIMORE — City officials suspended six police officers Monday as they investigate the death of a 25-year-old man who suffered a severe ...
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baltimore police - Google Search

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    The announcement came shortly after the Baltimore Police Department identified the six ...
  2. Police release names of officers involved in Freddie Gray arrest
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  3. Feds to Investigate Freddie Gray's Death in Baltimore Police Custody
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