Freddie Gray Asked Police to Go to Hospital, Tapes ShowOctober 31, 2016 |
by The Associated Press
BALTIMORE —The videotaped statements of two of the Baltimore officers charged in the death of a young black man whose neck was broken in the back of a police transport wagon have been made public for the first time.
WBAL-TV used a Maryland Public Information Act request to obtain the April 17, 2015 statements from the office of Democratic State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby.
In their voluntary declarations to investigators, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer Garrett Miller recount the events that led to Freddie Gray’s death earlier that month, an event that prompted protests, as well as looting and rioting, across Baltimore. Gray’s name also became a rallying cry for the growing Black Lives Matter movement, and resulted in the ouster of then-Police Commissioner Anthony Batts.
Six officers were charged with Gray’s death. Miller and White were charged with assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. White also faced a manslaughter charge. Their cases, as well as one for another officer, were dismissed after three other officers were acquitted.
The van driver, Caesar Goodson, is the only officer who did not make a voluntary statement. He faced the most serious charge of second-degree murder. All of the officers except for Goodson have filed civil lawsuits against Mosby for defamation.
The statements show that White, a supervisor who saw Gray during the final stops of the 45-minute van ride to the Western District station house, did not believe Gray was in need of medical care. Handcuffed with his legs shackled but unrestrained by a seat belt, Gray was unconscious when the van arrived at the station house. Miller was one of the arresting officers.
Prosecutors said Officer William Porter, whose first trial ended in a mistrial, told White, his superior, that Gray asked to go to the hospital at the wagon’s second-to-last stop. They argued that White erred when she directed the wagon back to the Western District instead of to a hospital.
White said in her statement that Gray “didn’t appear like he needed a medic” at that time, and that no officer ever mentioned taking Gray to a hospital.
Miller and White said they believed Gray was faking symptoms to avoid going to jail, and nobody used excessive force.
“They kind of used the terminology like, ‘Oh, he just has jail-itis.’ You know, that’s all they basically said. You know, like, ‘He really didn’t want to go to jail,’ whatever,” White said, adding that he was making “kind of like a little noise or whatever” at the fifth stop at North Avenue. “It was not like he was verbally saying anything. So, I just figured at that point, he didn’t want to cooperate,” she said.
Miller was among the first officers to encounter Gray after Gray ran from Lt. Brian Rice, who was patrolling the area with Miller and Officer Edward Nero on bicycles. Miller told investigators that he put Gray in handcuffs, but when Gray complained that he couldn’t breathe he “sat him up.” Miller told investigators that he didn’t realize Gray had been injured until later when he received a call.
Gray’s death not only added fuel to the national conversation surrounding the treatment of young black men by police in cities and towns across the United States, but fractured the relationship between the police department and the state’s attorney’s office.