Freddie Gray was a young black man from Baltimore Maryland, who died while in police custody. He was arrested on April 12, 2015 and died a week later.
Beyond that, there are a lot of questions.
Why was he arrested? We know Mr. Gray had a record, and was due in court on April 24. Was there a warrant out for him on some other charge? Officers allege that he was carrying a switchblade, but prosecutors said the knife he was carrying was legal. Who’s right?
Another man in the van at the same time has told two stories. First, he said that he could hear Gray banging himself around, and slamming himself against walls & the doors of the van. He later seems to have changed that story.
Why wasn’t Mr. Gray belted in? Was it police procedure to leave prisoners unrestrained? And if so, why? Seat belt laws have been on the books since as early as 1984, and by 2007, most states required their use (you can be pulled over in 25 states for failing to be belted; 24 states only add a violation if you’re pulled over for another offense). If it was policy, then the officers were certainly negligent. If it wasn’t policy, then it seems to be more a failure of the Department rather than the individual officers, although they certainly could have belted him in anyway.
Was there a delay between Gray’s injuries & the time he was taken to a hospital? If so, why? Was the police van driven in an unsafe manner which might have contributed to the injuries?
The officers involved have been charged with murder. Is this an overreach? Law professor John Banzhaf believes so. Banzhaf is known as a ‘public interest’ lawyer, suing restaurant chains, tobacco companies and soft drink makers for the effects their products have on health, so he’s hardly someone that can be called ‘right wing’. Alan Dershowitz also believes murder charges are excessive.
Should the State’s Attorney recuse herself? Apparently, she has ties to the lawyer for Gray’s family. It seems that she should, in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety, stay out of this case. Will she? Early indications are that she won’t.
Mr. Gray’s death is a tragedy. We need to get to the truth. If the officers were negligent, they need to be charged & punished for negligence. If they acted maliciously, they need to be charged and punished accordingly. And if they are innocent of wrongdoing, they need to be exonerated.
Police need to be seen as trustworthy. They’re the ‘thin blue line’ between the law abiding in this country, and the lawless. They can’t be allowed to take the law into their own hands. We need to be able to know that they’re acting in the best interest of the people of their city, county or state.