BALTIMORE — A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.
The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.
The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.
Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12. The 25-year-old had suffered a spinal injury and died a week later, touching off waves of protests across Baltimore, capped by a riot Monday in which hundreds of angry residents torched buildings, looted stores and pelted police officers with rocks.
Police have said they do not know whether Gray was injured during the arrest or during his 30-minute ride in the van. Local police and the U.S. Justice Department both have launched investigations of Gray’s death.
Jason Downs, one of the attorneys for the Gray family, said the family had not been told of the prisoner’s comments to investigators.
“We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord,” Downs said. “We question the accuracy of the police reports we’ve seen thus far, including the police report that says Mr. Gray was arrested without force or incident.”
Baltimore police said they will wrap up their investigation Friday and turn the results over to the Baltimore state’s attorney’s office, which will decide whether to seek an indictment. Six police officers, including a lieutenant and a sergeant, have been suspended.
Capt. Eric Kowalczyk, chief spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, declined to comment on the affidavit, citing the ongoing investigation. The person who provided the document did so on condition of anonymity.
The affidavit is part of a search warrant seeking the seizure of the uniform worn by one of the officers involved in Gray’s arrest or transport. It does not say how many officers were in the van, whether any reported that they heard banging or whether they would have been able to help Gray if he was seeking to injure himself. Police have mentioned only two prisoners in the van.
Read more: The Washington Post