From the Baltimore Police investigation into the arrest and transport of Freddie Gray also comes preliminary findings of the medical examiner, and despite much debate where and when the young man sustained the injuries that led to his death, his neck injury occurred during transport. According to sources close to the investigation, Gray was injured while inside the police van.
WJLA in Washington, D. C., reported April 30 that the medical examiner’s preliminary conclusions, which were part of the overall internal police investigation into the death of Freddie Gray, pointed to the 25-year-old’s death as being caused by injuries sustained while in police custody. From WJLA: “Sources said the medical examiner found Gray’s catastrophic injury was caused when he slammed into the back of the police transport van, apparently breaking his neck; a head injury he sustained matches a bolt in the back of the van.”
It is still uncertain as to how Gray actually came to be slammed around inside the police van during transport, but it is known that the police van stopped at least four times on its way to the Baltimore police station. This came to light only due to a bystander’s video that indicated the van in a stopped position, one not mentioned in the initial police report. And as Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez stated earlier in the investigation: “I know that when Mr. Gray was placed inside that van, he was able to talk and he was upset. And when Mr. Gray was taken out of that van, he could not talk and he could not breathe.”
Could Freddie Gray have been a victim of a “rough ride,” a slang term used to denote the manner in which some suspects are transported? According to the New York Times, “rough rides” are what Baltimore cops call the battering, jouncing, and jolting perpetrated on a suspect — one left in restraints but not in a seatbelt, often left lying face-down — in a police van caused by the driver’s actions. It is done as payback against the suspect for any number of perceived offenses against the policemen themselves.
Given the charges filed against the six Baltimore police officers Friday by State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, a “rough ride” may be exactly what occurred. It is known that Gray was transported without a seat belt and lying in restraints on his stomach, according to the list of charges reported by CNN. Although all six officers were charged with various counts of assault and misconduct (four were charged with involuntary manslaughter), not to mention several being charged with false imprisonment (he was arrested for carrying a legal folding knife, although early reports maintained it was an illegal switchblade), only the driver, Officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., was charged with manslaughter by vehicle and second-degree depraved-heart murder. The latter charge came as a result of Goodson’s alleged continued neglect of the suspect’s requests for medical assistance and not restraining the suspect properly (with a seatbelt).