I am sorry Baltimore..

but it seems you have more problems than just racism.

In the Baltimore death of Freddie Gray it would appear that the operative words are “race to judgment”.

As of today there are a number of question that need to be answered..  Freddie Gray was arrested on Apr. 12 by three bike patrol officers, in the Gilmore Housing area, after he “locked eyes with them” and turned around to get away..  They chased him down, searched him, and then arrested him for “suspicion of carrying a switch blade”.  The knife has since been identified as a plain folding knife of the type that is legal to carry,  according to Marilyn Mosby,  which made it an illegal arrest.  My understanding of things is that Mosby works for the state of Maryland, and is talking about state law.  A task force of City Officers said the knife was illegal under city ordinances.  So there might be a question there.

Legally Law Enforcement officers are assumed, unless proven otherwise, to act according to the law.  This gives them a certain protection as not every arrest is either prosecuted, or convicted, and there are times when charges just can not be proven, either because the evidence is not there, or the officers made mistakes.

So the question here might be why did three officers arrest him for carrying what might be a legal knife?  Did they not know the difference between a switch blade and a folding knife?  Not likely.  So why would they arrest him for it if they knew the charges would be dismissed, or was it just a result of some kind of misunderstanding?  One explanation might have to do with the fact that when Freddie Gray saw that the officers had seen him he turned to leave the area..  Many officers will take that for a suspicious act and want to investigate.  At least to the point of getting an ID.  In this case the knife appears to be a reason to hold him, for long enough to find out if he is wanted in another jurisdiction, or in case a crime has been committed, though not as yet reported, and he might be the perp.

The injury is my next question..  There are a number of, to me, puzzling aspects to his injury..  A number of people have pointed to the video of Mr. Gray getting carried to the police wagon..  They site this as evidence that he was unable to use his legs to walk.  I have looked at the video and to me it looks like rather than being straight and dragging his legs look bent as if he has pulled them up so as to force the officers to carry him.  This is a tactic that is often used by protesters when they are arrested by police.  This might also explain his cries of pain.  Just think about what his shoulder would feel like if, when he lifted his legs into the air, the officers carried him by his cuffed arms, thus putting additional pressure on his shoulder joints.

While NBC News quotes Deputy Police Commissioner Keven Davis as having  said when police arrested Gray on Presbury Street, “quite frankly that’s exactly where Freddie Gray should have received medical attention, and he did not.”   The coroners office was supposed to have said that the injury happened after Mr. Gray had been in the van.  So, is Commissioner Davis saying that all arrested persons should receive medical care after an arrest?  Does he know something we don’t, or is it possible that the injury happened during the arrest, when officers were said to have held his head down with their feet, and the injury was aggravated by the ride in the wagon.

I would like to know more about that ride in the wagon.  He was placed, handcuffed, into the back of the van.  It looks like the placed him on the floor of the van rather than on an interior bench.  Later the van is supposed to have stopped so they could put leg irons on him..  I worked at the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, in the jail, for several months before they decided that I did not have the temperament to work with prisoners, but in the 4 months that I was there I saw a number of times when, either City or County, would bring unruly prisoners into the jail using what is sometimes referred to a hogtie.  If this were the case with Mr. Gray it would indeed be hard to belt him onto a bench.  So maybe this is what happened..  He might have been laying on the floor of the van with his ankles cuffed to his wrist, or maybe not.

There were reports that the coroners office stated that he had a head injury that matched a bolt in the back of the van but I do not remember seeing anything about where this bolt was located.  Would it be in a place where he could only come into contact with it if he was on the floor, or was it some place where he might have hit it while on the bench?

One medical source was reported to have said that Freddie Gray injuries were consistent with those found in a car crash…

Did an officer’s knee against his neck, a move done to hold a struggling prisoner still, have enough force to do this, or was that he suffered an injury that was not serious by itself but was further damaged by the ride.

That gets us to the ride in the van..  and there does seem to be a history of people injured in the back of these vans:

(This part taken from dailykos.com)

Relatives of Dondi Johnson Sr., who was left a paraplegic after a 2005 police van ride, won a $7.4 million verdict against police officers. A year earlier, Jeffrey Alston was awarded $39 million by a jury after he became paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a van ride. Others have also received payouts after filing lawsuits. […]

Christine Abbott, a 27-year-old assistant librarian at the Johns Hopkins University, is suing city officers in federal court, alleging that she got such a ride in 2012. According to the suit, officers cuffed Abbott’s hands behind her back, threw her into a police van, left her unbuckled and “maniacally drove” her to the Northern District police station, “tossing [her] around the interior of the police van.” […]

The most sensational case in Baltimore involved Johnson, a 43-year-old plumber who was arrested for public urination. He was handcuffed and placed in a transport van in good health. He emerged a quadriplegic.

In 1997, Alston became paralyzed from the neck down in a van after being arrested. Alston said he told the officers he couldn’t breathe, but they refused to give him an inhaler for asthma.

Officers said the 32-year-old repeatedly rammed his head into the side of the van, freed himself from a seat belt and thrashed some more.

Alston sued, and at the trial, Dr. Adrian Barbul, a Sinai Hospital trauma surgeon, testified that Alston had no external head injuries when he was taken to the emergency room.

(last of the above)

Maybe the Maryland State Attorney Marilyn Mosby knows something we can’t see, maybe she is just going for a prosecution to let the courts decide what happened, or maybe she is just another activist who wants to show that she can be tough on cops, even though she is from a police family.

I don’t have enough information to decide, though it does not really look good for the Baltimore City Police Department.

Trivia fact alert : Baltimore has a Baltimore City Police Department, a Baltimore County Police Department, and a Baltimore County Sheriff’s Office..  Supposedly the BCSO only works through the courts.

It would be nice to know, though not really important here in Florida, if this problem is an indication of systemic failure in the BPD, or a freak occurrence.

 

Thank you,

That Joe Guy.

 

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