Ear Hustle

Baltimore police turn over report on investigation to state attorneys

BALTIMORE — Baltimore police said Thursday that they have turned over a much-anticipated report of their investigation into the death of Freddie Gray to prosecutors.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said at a news conference Thursday that his department turned over the report a day early because he understood the public’s frustration and the urgency in the case, which he called tragic.

Six police officers, including a lieutenant and a sergeant, have been suspended after the death of the 25-year-old Gray while he was in police custody.

The State’s Attorney’s Office released a statement saying that it had received the report and asking for patience while it conducts its investigation.

“The State’s Attorney’s Office has in fact received the hard copies of the Baltimore Police Department’s investigative file; however, the results of their investigation is not new to us. We have been briefed regularly throughout their process while simultaneously conducting our own independent investigation into the death of Freddie Gray,” the statement said. “We ask for the public to remain patient and peaceful and to trust the process of the justice system.”

Police also said Thursday that a transport van that Gray was placed in after his arrest made an additional stop, which was not initially known to investigators. They did not say why the van stopped or provide any other details. Police said the additional stop was captured on a private security camera.

Batts said that even though the department has turned over its report so far to the prosecutors it is still an active, open investigation that police are working.

The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office will now have to decide whether to file criminal charges. The U.S. Department of Justice is also conducting its own investigation into Gray’s death.

The report from the police to prosecutors comes as Batts has admitted flaws in the way officers handled Gray after they chased him through a West Baltimore housing project and arrested him. Police have said they later found a switchblade clipped to the inside of his pants.

Batts has said officers repeatedly ignored Gray’s pleas for medical help and failed to secure him with a safety belt or harness in the back of the transport van, as policy requires.

Video shot by several bystanders has fueled the rage in West Baltimore. It shows two officers on top of Gray during his arrest, putting their knees in his back, then dragging his seemingly limp body to the van as he cries out.

Batts has said Gray stood on one leg and climbed into the van on his own.

The van driver stopped several times while transporting Gray to a booking center, once to put him in leg irons. Batts said the officer driving the van described Gray as “irate.” The search warrant application says Gray “continued to be combative in the police wagon.”

The driver made another stop and asked an officer to help check on Gray. At that stop, police have said the van driver found Gray on the floor of the van and put him back on the seat, still without restraints. Police said Gray asked for medical help at that point.

An additional stop was made to put another prisoner into the van. The van was then driven six blocks to the Western District station. Gray was taken from there to a hospital, where he died April 19.

On Thursday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said of the police turning over their investigative report to prosecutors, “I’m going to do everything I can to support the state’s attorney and the Department of Justice as they further their investigation so that we can have justice for Freddie Gray.”

The mayor later posted on Twitter, “The family of Mr. Gray wants answers. I want answers. Our entire city deserves answers. We will remain vigilant on this path to justice.”

Officials have had said the police report to the prosecutors will not be made public.

The report comes as officials are worried about another flash point in the city of 600,000, which saw riots and looting on Monday, clamped down by curfews over the past two days.

But some groups, including CASA de Maryland and members of the Baltimore United for Change coalition, are asking that more of the process be open to public scrutiny. They’ve planned a rally and march for Friday afternoon from the steps of the State’s Attorney’s Office to City Hall.

“It seems impossible for them not to release something,” said Kim Propeack, director of CASA in Action, the political arm of the immigrant advocacy organization. “The public has a right to know the details of the investigation.”

Batts has said that revealing too much information could compromise any possible prosecution.

“We are limiting any information that goes out there for the purpose of prosecution, if that’s an issue,” Batts has said.

On Thursday morning, streets in Baltimore were relatively quiet as people returned to work and their normal routines — even though there was still a heavy presence of law enforcement and media.

In the West Baltimore neighborhood that was ground zero for much of the protests and riots, a resident named Wanda, who declined to give her last name, was waiting for a bus. It didn’t come the previous day; her brother picked her up and drove her to her job as a housekeeper at a senior-living community in Catonsville, Md.

The buses had rerouted the previous couple of days, detouring around the troubled areas.

“I hope everything gets back like it was,” she said of the neighborhood.

Others stood at random spots along North Avenue — the main drag through the area — hoping a bus would come their way.

“I’ve been catching cabs for days, and I can’t really afford it,” said Tammie Johnson, who does eviction paperwork for a company in East Baltimore.

Construction worker Grady Watson, 52, returned to his job site near the main rioting area where he is part of a crew that is building a senior-housing complex. He recalled how youths grabbed rocks Monday from the construction site as protests started nearby.

“Some of them couldn’t even look me in the face,” he said. “They’re not making a statement. They’re just hurting the working people.”

Next door to the CVS in West Baltimore that was looted and burned on Monday, about 60 senior citizens who live in a building there worried about how they would get their medication, food and toiletries. The next closest drugstore to them is about three miles away.

But on Thursday, some of their concerns were alleviated as several area residents, Daytona Beach business lawyers and sororities dropped off donated items.

“This is such a blessing,” said Reginald Hope, 72, who lives in the building.

Source: Washington Post

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