Police Didn't Fasten Freddie Gray's Seat Belt

Commissioner says going belt-less wasn't allowed under any cirumstances
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2015 7:51 AM CDT
Police Didn't Fasten Freddie Gray's Seat Belt
A member of the Baltimore Police Department stands guard outside of the department's Western District police station as men hold their hands up in protest during a march for Freddie Gray, Wednesday, April 22, 2015, in Baltimore.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A lawyer representing at least one of the officers under investigation in Baltimore is offering a clue as to what could have caused Freddie Gray's fatal injury while in police custody: He wasn't wearing a seat belt during his time in a police van, NBC News reports. Gray, who suffered a broken neck and later died, was handcuffed and put in leg irons during a police transfer. While authorities still don't know how or when the injury was caused, suspects without a seat belt have been paralyzed or killed during bumpy police rides, which some argue are intentional. One such death occurred in Baltimore in 2005. Just nine days before Gray's death, police regulations were revised to state that all prisoners must be strapped in a vehicle with seat belts or "other authorized restraining devices" for safety reasons; Gray wasn't, says attorney Michael Davey.

Commissioner Anthony Batts, who has met with Gray's family, says a prisoner should not have been transported without a seat belt under any circumstance. "He wasn't wearing a seat belt and that's part of our investigation," he says, per the Guardian. But "policy is policy, practice is something else," especially when suspects are aggressive, Davey says. "It is not always possible or safe for officers to enter the rear of those transport vans that are very small, and this one was very small." Meanwhile, two men were arrested yesterday during a fifth night of protests; the Baltimore PD tweeted that a 24-year-old was charged with destruction of property, and a 23-year-old was charged with assault. Click for more on the case. (More Freddie Gray stories.)

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