Once again, a family and community are left to mourn the loss of a young Black male who died as a result of injuries sustained while in the custody of the Baltimore Police Department. Freddie Gray is the most recent victim in a disturbing string of in-custody injuries, deaths and incidents of police violence. We extend our deepest condolences to his family members and friends and join their call for answers.
Although Mr. Gray’s arrest and injuries occurred over a week ago, the Baltimore Police Department has disclosed little information to the public about what or who caused the serious injuries he sustained, including a severed spine. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts have assured the public that they will conduct a thorough investigation of the case and “hold the right people accountable.” But, the longer they wait to disclose basic facts about the incident, including the reason for the police officers’ initial contact with Mr. Gray, any available video of the interaction, the identity of the officers, and the incident report, the less faith the public will have in those promises and in the justice system.
“Sadly, Freddie Gray now joins Tyrone West and other young men who have died shortly after their arrests by Baltimore police. While Commissioner Batts’ creation of the Force Investigation Team and his use of independent review boards to investigate alleged incidents of excessive use of force have the potential to build public trust, the police department’s failure to provide timely reports of the facts surrounding Mr. Gray’s arrest severely undermines that goal.” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. “We call on Mayor Rawlings-Blake and Commissioner Batts to use their authority to release to the public as much information as possible concerning the in-custody injuries sustained by Mr. Gray and any and all interactions with Baltimore police on that fateful day.”