Black Baltimore man who died after arrest had knife: report

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 20, 2015 12:57 PM

(Reuters) - A black man who died a week after being arrested by white police officers in Baltimore had been detained without incident for having a switchblade knife, the Baltimore Sun reported on Monday.

Freddie Gray, 27, suffered a medical emergency while being taken to a police station and was hospitalized, the newspaper said, citing documents filed in Baltimore City District Court.

He died on Sunday. A lawyer for the Gray family, William Murphy Jr., said his spine was 80 percent severed at the neck while in police custody.

Gray's death followed the killings of unarmed black men by white police officers in the United States. The deaths have raised a outcry over the treatment of minorities by law enforcement.

The court documents provide the first account of Gray's arrest, which sparked outrage in Baltimore, a largely African American city.

Gray was stopped because he "fled unprovoked upon noticing police presence," the filings said, according to the Sun.

When he was apprehended, officers found a knife clipped to the inside of his front pants pocket. "The defendant was arrested without force or incident," the newspaper quoted the documents as saying. The filings were not immediately available.

Gray lapsed into a coma, was resuscitated, had surgery on Monday then "clung to life for seven days," Murphy said in a statement.

Baltimore police did not comment on that statement or release details of Gray's medical condition.

Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said police had no evidence of a dispute that would have resulted in the death.

A video taken by a bystander showed officers dragging Gray into a van.

A few dozen demonstrators gathered outside city hall Monday in a protest organized by the leftist Peoples Power Assembly, according to a WMAR television, an ABC affiliate.

"If we stay calm at a time like this there is something wrong with us," one man said. Protesters carried signs that said "Freddie Gray Justice" and "No Justice No Peace."

The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a separate review of complaints about Baltimore police, at the request of Police Commissioner Anthony Batts. His request followed a Baltimore Sun investigation that found the city had paid almost $6 million since 2011 to settle more than 100 lawsuits alleging police brutality and other misconduct.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Doina Chiacu)