Man dies in US police custody after most of neck severed

Baltimore's mayor has ordered an independent inquiry
Baltimore's mayor has ordered an independent inquiry

AUTHORITIES in Baltimore have ordered an inquiry into the circumstances in which a man died in police custody having allegedly suffered a broken back.

Freddie Gray was arrested a week ago and detained by police officers mounted on bicycles. On Sunday, a week after he was arrested, it was reported that Mr Gray had died.


Mr Gray's stepfather, Richard Shipley, said that his son had suffered several broken vertebrae and was in an induced coma. He confirmed to reporters that his son had died after undergoing spinal surgery earlier in the week.

Mr Gray's injuries have sparked protests in Baltimore, and prompted an internal use-of-force investigation of the arresting officers, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Baltimore Police Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez gave a statement regarding the video saying that it was only a portion of the "incident."

"During that arrest, the video, which we believe captures only a portion of it, shows the officers attempting to detain this individual, keep him on the ground. There's a lot of screaming and yelling; there's a lot of folks in the background," he said.

He added: "At no time - and I've seen the video a number of times - did I see the use of force at that moment. But again the video is a portion of the incident."

A lawyer for Mr Gray's family, William Murphy, said Mr Gray was healthy at the time of his arrest, and insisted there was no evidence he had committed a crime.

He says that Mr Gray's spine was "80 [percent] severed at the neck" while he was in police custody, and that he died and was resuscitated before his spinal surgery at Shock Trauma.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has promised a full investigation into the man's injury and death.

"I understand the frustration of the community and I take very seriously my obligation of transparency," she said.

"However we also have to balance that with our obligation to ensure a proper and thorough investigation is undertaken.

Therefore we have to move forward in a responsible way to determine all the facts of this incident so that we can provide the community with answers."

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