Baltimore residents’ anger at the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who suffered a mysterious spinal injury while in police custody, bubbled over Monday night into widespread looting and violence.
The turmoil in Baltimore was among the most prominent displays of anti-police sentiment since demonstrators marched through the streets of Ferguson, Missouri last fall after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Police said at least 15 officers were injured and nearly 200 people were arrested.
While the city’s residents demanded answers, much of what happened to Gray remained a mystery. Police have given a timeline of the Gray’s April 12 arrest while acknowledging that the timeline contains significant gaps.
An internal investigation into the arrest, which left Gray with a severe spinal injury that he succumbed to a week later, is expected to wrap up later this week. Here’s everything we know to date.
Who is Freddie Gray?
Gray, 25, grew up in the Gilmor Homes public housing complex in Sandtown-Winchester, a neighborhood on Baltimore’s west side.
Friends told the Washington Post that Gray went by the nickname “Pepper” and was a funny, loyal guy who wanted nothing more than to get out of the housing project. Gray was also known for wearing flashy clothing and had an affinity for Prada accessories, they told the newspaper.
Gray never held a real job, friends said. Instead, he received money from an undisclosed settlement he and his two sisters were awarded in a 2008 lawsuit. The lawsuit alleged the amount of lead paint in the house they grew up in was enough “to poison the children and render them incapable of leading functional lives,” according to the Post.
He also had a rap sheet. Gray was arrested more than a dozen times, usually on charges of selling or possessing marijuana and heroin, according to the Post. The newspaper reported that Gray had several convictions, his longest sentence being two years behind bars.
Why was he arrested?
Baltimore police initially said Gray was taken into custody after he made eye contact with multiple officers near the Gilmor Houses and ran away from them. Police said Gray suffered a “medical distress” a short time later and was transported “quickly” to a local hospital in critical condition.
The statement of charges against Gray, filled out by officer Garrett Miller, accused him of carrying a switchblade inside his pants pocket, according to the New York Times. The statement added that Gray “was arrested without force or incident.”
The mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, has suggested that police did not chase Gray because he was carrying a switchblade.
“We know having a knife is not necessarily a crime, not necessarily probable cause,” she said.
Police have also noted that the arresting officers were working in an area known for drug sales and violent crime.
How was he injured?
An attorney for Gray’s family, Billy Murphy, said 80 percent of Gray’s spinal cord was severed near his neck. The biggest mystery here is how Gray sustained that injury while in police custody.
Officials said the police investigation was zeroing in on Gray’s 30-minute ride in a police transport van.
“When he was placed inside that van, he was able to talk, he was upset,” Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said in a news conference last week. “And when Mr. Gray was taken out of the van, he could not talk, he could not breathe.”
“It’s clear that what happened, happened inside the van,” Rawlings-Blake said.
Rodriguez said that Gray asked the arresting officers for an inhaler when they requested a transport van at about 8:42 a.m. Minutes later the transport van’s driver said he believed Gray was acting “irate” stopped to complete paperwork, according to the timeline Rodriguez laid out in the news conference. Gray was placed in leg irons during that stop.
Rodriguez said the transport van made a second stop where there was “some communication” with Gray that is under investigation by the police department.
The van made a third stop to pick up another arrestee en route to Central Booking. Gray had to be picked up off the floor of the van and put in a seat during that stop, according to Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis, the official in charge of the police investigation.
A medic was finally called when the van arrived at the Western District police station at 9:24 a.m., Rodriguez said.
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts acknowledged that police should have sought medical attention for Gray when he was first arrested.
“We know that police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner,” Batts said.
Batts also said that officers did not put a seat belt on Gray while he was in the transport van as required by department policy.
What do the videos show?
Several bystanders captured Gray’s detention on cellphone video. One of those videos appears to show Gray screaming while on the ground as police detain him near the Gilmor Houses. Three officers, who appear to be white, then drag the limp Gray into the back of a police transport van.
Police later released surveillance video of the incident:
There is no video that shows what happened to Gray while he was in the transport van, according to Rodriguez, the deputy police commissioner.
What is being done in response to Gray’s death?
Rawlings-Blake, the mayor, and Batts, the police commissioner, who are both black, have promised a thorough and transparent investigation into Gray’s death.
The police investigation is expected to be completed Friday, Batts said. The state’s attorney is then expected to determine whether to file criminal charges.
Six officers also have been suspended with pay in connection with the Gray case. Baltimore police last week identified the officers as Lt. Brian Rice, 41; Sgt. Alicia White, 30; William Porter, 25; Garrett Miller, 26; Edward Nero, 29; and Caesar Goodson, 45. Five of those officers have provided statements for the police investigation, according to The Baltimore Sun.
The Justice Department said last week that it is also reviewing the case for potential civil rights charges.