Sometime between 8:39 a.m. and 9:26 a.m. on April 12, 25-year-old Freddie Gray suffered what would ultimately be a fatal spinal injury during an arrest by Baltimore Police officers. Very little information is known about how Gray was injured, which has been cause for debate and anger across the country. Here’s what we know happened.
His injury: Gray broke three vertebrae in his neck and had a crushed voice box, indicating that at some point Gray’s neck was subject to a “significant amount of force,” according to Dr. Ali Bydon, an associate professor of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University. Gray’s injuries were consistent with those commonly suffered by victims of serious car accidents, Bydon said.
Gray’s arrest is filmed, showing multiple officers holding him down, then picking him up and putting him in a police van. Gray is heard screaming in pain and his legs appear limp. Police said that no force was used during the arrest, but an eyewitness who recorded the arrest said an officer had his knee on Gray’s neck and ignored Gray’s request for an inhaler. Gray is then driven away in the van to Central Booking, to be processed.
“When Mr. Gray was placed inside that van, he was able to talk, he was upset, and when Mr. Gray was taken out of that van he could not talk and he could not breath,” said Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said last week. “I know Mr. Gray suffered a very traumatic injury, but I don't know if it happened prior to him getting into the van or while he was in the van.”
Six minutes after Gray’s arrest, at 8:46 a.m., the driver of the police van described Gray as being “irate” in the back of the van, according Rodriguez. Police stop the van “so paperwork can be completed,” and they remove Gray. He is put in leg irons and placed back in the van. Eyewitnesses told the Baltimore Sun they saw Gray being beaten but that has not been independently verified. Rodriguez admitted that the officers transporting Gray did not secure him with a seatbelt, violating department policy.
About 13 minutes later, the van stops again and the driver requests another unit stop and help check on Gray. They found him on the floor of the van and put him back in his seat, but did not listen to Gray’s request for medical help. At one point after that, the van stops to pick up another detainee, who is separated from Gray by a partition. On Wednesday, the Washington Post obtained a police document with that prisoner’s affidavit concerning Gray’s death.
The prisoner said he heard Gray “banging against the walls,” and in his opinion “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”
The prisoner could not see Gray at all during the trip. The 38-year-old remains in police custody and his identity has not been revealed. A lawyer for Gray’s family said he didn’t believe that the young man was trying to hurt himself in the back of the van and also doesn’t believe the validity of any police statements regarding Gray’s arrest and detention.
At 9:26 a.m., police at the Western District police station call paramedics to respond to an “unconscious male” and they arrive seven minutes later, according to the Baltimore Sun. They administer care to Gray at the station for 21 minutes before transporting him to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died a week later. The public will have to wait for the official police report regarding Gray's death, as Baltimore Police plan to hand their findings over to state-level prosecutors involved in the investigation on Friday and keep the contents of the report private.