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What do we REALLY know about why Freddie Gray died?

What do we REALLY know about why Freddie Gray died?

A Hypothetical Scenario In Which Gray’s Death Does NOT Involve Police Misconduct.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the death of Freddie Gray is how little is publicly known about the physiological cause of death, and the lack of evidence behind all the speculation.

The autopsy will not be released, according to police, but will be handed over to state prosecutors. There is a report in The Washington Post that Gray tried to injure himself in the police van, but that is far from certain at this point.

This naturally complicates reasoned analysis of the events, and provides fertile ground for false, politically-motivated narratives that lead to violence, rioting, looting and arson.

Let’s take a step back, examine the claims and narratives that have been promulgated to date, and consider whether there exists even a hypothetical scenario in which the death of Freddie Gray is the result of events not involving police malice.

Assumed for Purposes of Discussion: Gray’s Arrest Was Lawful

There is no dispute that Freddie Gray was arrested on the street by the Baltimore police department. Some claim that the arrest was committed without adequate probable cause. This is, of course, possible.

Given Gray’s extensive criminal record, familiarity to local law enforcement, objectively suspicious behavior—-flight upon spotting the patrol officers—-and a police claim that he was in possession of an illegal (in Maryland), spring-assisted opening knife, it’s at least equally possible that the police had probable cause.

freddie_gray_complaint 600

(h/t excellent blog for the criminal complaint above)

As an aside, I find it noteworthy that when William Murphy, the Gray family lawyer, addresses the issue of the knife he does so only with respect to its size—which is not the basis of its claimed illegality—rather than its mechanism of function, which is the basis of its claimed illegality.

In any case, whether the arrest was made with sufficient probable cause is not central to understanding the cause of Gray’s death. For purposes of this post, I’ll assume the arrest was lawfully made in order to simplify the narrative.

The Nature of Gray’s Injuries

The information available about the nature of Gray’s injuries falls into one of two categories.

(1) Information from a credible medical source, such as an examining physician, or which can be reasonably inferred from either video or multiple sources.

(2) Information that comes solely from Attorney Murphy or any immediate member of Gray’s family.

Most of us will recall the inaccurate “forensic” information shared with the public by Brown family lawyers and others in the immediate aftermath of Michael Brown’s shooting by police officer Darren Wilson—for example, the claims that Brown had been shot in the back, had been shot while kneeling, had been shot with his arms raised in surrender, and so forth.

There’s no reason to expect that Murphy’s communications in this case are any more accurate or less intended to drive a desired narrative. For this I discount entirely any information for which Murphy, or one of his agents, is the sole source.

Importantly, this includes the claim that Gray suffered a crushed larynx, as Murphy is the only source of this claim . This is particularly relevant because while I can imagine scenarios in which Gray’s death was not the result of criminal malice by the police, these scenarios become far less likely if a crushed larynx is in fact among the injuries suffered.

For the same reasons I discount claims that Gray’s spinal cord was 80% severed.

Spinal Cord Damage Is Often Ongoing Hours After Initial Trauma

That leaves us with the medically confirmed injuries Gray suffered to his vertebrae. These certainly appear to be the proximate cause of Gray’s death. Gray’s death was not sudden, but took place days after his arrest.

It also appears likely that the physiological injuries were also not sudden, but took place over some hours. To see why this is so, one must understand the nature of spinal injuries.

As with any traumatic injury, spinal injuries are often immediately followed by swelling, a predictable inflammatory reaction that is the first step of healing. The difference, however, is that injuries to the spinal cord and brain live within the tight confines of the spinal vertebrae and the skull, respectively.

As a result, spinal cord damage commonly comes in two stages—first, the initial physical traumatic injury. Second, and often by far the more harmful, the damage that results when the injured, swelling nervous tissue crushes itself within the unyielding vertebrae.

It is in order to prevent this second, pressure-induced type of damage that spinal injury patients are often given drugs intended to reduce or prevent swelling.

A Scenario In Which Gray’s Death Did Not Involve Police Criminality

The most common media narrative, and the claimed political motivation for the Baltimore rioting, is that Freddie Gray was alive and well when arrested and placed in the police van; then, within 30 minutes of that arrest and while exclusively in police custody, he suffered severe trauma to his vertebrae, his spine was 80% severed, and his larynx was crushed.

This narrative infers that the police must have subjected Gray to auto-crash levels of force while he was in the van. The police, however, report that they subjected Gray to no force after he was secured in the van.

Is there a hypothetical scenario under which Gray’s injuries are consistent with the police having acted appropriately, or at least without criminal malice?

I suggest that the presence of a crushed larynx takes any innocent explanation off the table. Gray can be heard crying out in pain while being arrested and placed in the van, and this would suggest his larynx was uncrushed at that time. I find myself unable to imagine a scenario consistent with police innocence that results in Gray suffering a crushed larynx while handcuffed inside the police van (absent a vehicular accident, which is not claimed by anyone.)

That leaves us with the injury to Gray’s vertebrae, which has been confirmed by medical examination following Gray’s arrest.

Available video of Gray’s arrest appears to begin from the point at which he was handcuffed. I have seen no video of the nature of Gray’s arrest prior to that point.

Nevertheless, what can be seen on the video suggests that considerable force may have been used. There are several police officers involved in the physical, hands-on part of the arrest, and the officers’ bicycles are strewn on the ground as if hasty action was taken.

When a suspect subject to lawful arrest resists the police officers, those officers may lawfully escalate the force they use to compel the suspect to comply.

A particularly effective way of controlling a suspect, especially if several officers is on hand, is for one of those officers to seize physical control of the suspect’s head and neck. Where the suspect’s head and neck go, the body will follow—and generally the goal is to get the suspect on the ground, usually face down.

Once brought to the ground the suspect is often kept there by a police officer placing his body weight, often specifically focused on the officer’s knee, onto the suspect’s upper spine or even neck. The assisting officers can then seize control of the suspect’s hands and secure them with cuffs.  This scenario is consistent with facts as reported by the Washington Post:

Video shot by several bystanders has fueled the rage in West Baltimore. It shows two officers on top of Gray, their knees in his back, and then dragging his seemingly limp body to the van as he cried out.

It requires no great imagination to see how this kind of application of force, and particularly a large police officer applying his body weight via his knee to a prone suspect, could unintentionally result in severe damage to the vertebrae.

If that damage occurred, we’d expect to observe the typical two-stage process of any traumatic spinal injury.

First, there would be the physiological consequences of the immediate trauma. Injury to the neck or upper spine could be expected to result in cause weakness and dysfunction almost anywhere lower on the person’s body—including their legs and respiratory system.

This is consistent with the video evidence that Freddie Gray appeared to be having trouble both walking and breathing after he was secured and while he was placed in the van.

Second, and over a period of many minutes, perhaps even hours, we would begin to see the effects of the spinal cord’s swelling within the vertebrae. This damage would be progressive and perhaps not particularly obvious to the type of police officer whose assigned duty is the driving of a van.

Notably, this scenario is also consistent with news reports just yesterday that a fellow arrestee in the van, one who could hear but not see Gray, believed based on what he heard that Gray was trying to injure himself. A common consequence of spinal cord injury is spasm, tremors, and convulsions, of increasing severity as the swelling progresses (until a certain threshold of damage has been achieved). Such convulsions within the van might well have sounded to this witness as if Gray were throwing himself around the vehicle with the intent to self-injure.

Importantly, the damage caused during this second stage would require no post-arrest application of force by the police, consistent with their claims that they used no further force upon Gray after he had been secured and placed in the van.

Remaining Room for Police Culpability

The above scenario, even if true, does not entirely clear the police of all possibility of culpability.

Even if the arrest itself was lawful and based on adequate probable cause, the degree of force used to effect that arrest was excessive under the circumstances. If so, the police would be responsible for that excessive force and the consequences of it.

At worst, however, that culpability would be in the form a criminally negligent homicide, essentially a type of manslaughter. This would require no malice on the part of the officers involved, simply criminally reckless judgment and conduct.

If the threshold of criminal negligence cannot be met, we would be left with merely civil negligence. In that case the individual officers involved would almost certainly be protected under qualified immunity, albeit the department could well be liable (civil law is not my area of expertise).

Similarly, the police may have been negligent, perhaps even criminally negligent, in not getting Gray medical assistance sooner then they did. We lack sufficient information, and I lack sufficient medical knowledge, to know whether obtaining medical assistance 15 or 20 minutes sooner would have made any difference to Gray’s outcome, but I suppose that argument can be made with a straight face.

Most Baffling of All: The Ongoing Silence of Baltimore Officials

Even amidst all the uncertainty and speculation addressed above, what’s most baffling this entire series of events is the ongoing silence of Baltimore officials.

In some cases this silence has been literal, as when Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake apparently went so incommunicado during the riots that even the Governor of Maryland was unable to reach her to offer National Guard assistance.

In other cases this silence has been substantive, as when Mayor Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony Batts spewed nonsensical platitudes at lengthy press conferences.

In both cases, Baltimore officials failed to answer the fundamental question at issue:

What the hell actually happened to Freddie Gray?

And that question can only be answered by Baltimore officials quickly and transparently gathering and disseminating the facts of the case.

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

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Andrew F. Branca is an MA lawyer and the author of the seminal book “The Law of Self Defense, 2nd Edition,” available at the Law of Self Defense blog (autographed copies available) and (paperback and Kindle). He also holds Law of Self Defense Seminars around the country, and provides free online self-defense law video lectures at the Law of Self Defense Institute and podcasts through iTunes, Stitcher, and elsewhere.


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legacyrepublican | April 30, 2015 at 7:30 am

The real question is how much of the Ferguson shooting and Martin shooting affected this narrative.

Clearly, the man being arrested knew of them and was playing to the crowd around them by claiming police brutality. Once in the van, he sought to create the evidence of that brutality, which, ironically, caused his death.

I note all the arresting officers are white while the police chief, mayor, and other city officials are black.

Seems to me like the white officers are likely to be thrown under the bus if at all possible.

Background stories about Mr. Gray’s early life indicate that he was a victim of lead poisoning. I have read that lead poisoning may result in brittle bones, as the lead takes the place of calcium. If the police used normal force against a person with a similar, unknown, medical condition, resulting in injury, are they just as guilty?

    Anonamom in reply to amwick. | April 30, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Excellent question. I hope that Mr. Branca sees and addresses it.

    Ragspierre in reply to amwick. | April 30, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    I’ll venture an answer, though not to short-stop Andrew or anyone else here.

    An officer would not be GUILTY, but they may be LIABLE. I’ll explain…

    Most crimes involve a mens rea, or guilty mind. Several defensive theories impose a “reasonable person” standard, as has been discussed here many times on other issues. In your scenario, you have a person with an unknown…and unknowable…physical impairment. You also suggest officers acting using “normal” force, which sort of implies compliance with use-of-force standards set by their department.

    Under that set of conditions, it would be hard to see how an officer could be CRIMINALLY liable for anything that happened to a detainee. Or, they wouldn’t be “guilty”.

    Conversely, in civil tort law there is a very old rule called the “thin skull rule” that derives from an incident where a tort victim actually HAD a thin skull, and was injured by a tortfeasor. It’s more a rule of damages than anything else, and the court held that “you take your victims as you find them” when you commit a tort. To be civilly liable in tort (negligence here), the LEOs would have to be proven to owe a duty to their victim, that they violated, and that their violation was not what a reasonable person in the circumstances would have done (broadly). THEN you have to have had damages you can prove, too. Your defense could assert that anyone normal would have suffered no damages, and the “thin skull rule” would say, “Too bad, so sad. Pay up, suka”.

      amwick in reply to Ragspierre. | April 30, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      Thank you Mr. Pierre. I personally am a fan of Occam’s Razor, which seems to indicate that he was injured accidentally. So LEO may be not guilty, but they may be liable. Such fine distinctions are why lawyers have good jobs.

        Ragspierre in reply to amwick. | April 30, 2015 at 4:52 pm

        Good jobs??? There are days when I’d rather be operating cranes.

        Just one FYI, you aren’t liable under civil law for a real accident. And we all know those actually DO happen.

          “Just one FYI, you aren’t liable under civil law for a real accident. And we all know those actually DO happen.”

          Technically, that’s 100% true, of course.

          But that’s usually a hard sell where the plaintiff is a dead black kid, the defendant a wealthy (I know, I know) city, and enough “hands on” lawful or not to allow a plaintiff’s lawyer to argue excessive force.

          The prudent thing for the city to do will be to pay off the family (and associated rent seekers, like Al) to go away, and I’m sure THIS city in particular will be MORE than happy to do so.

          –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

          Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | April 30, 2015 at 5:17 pm

          Yeh, I was speaking in the abstract.

          Baltimore will pay off like a broken slot machine, betcha.

          They wouldn’t (on the facts so far) if I was their lawyer, but there’s a huge flaw in that whole scenario.

    IrateNate in reply to amwick. | May 1, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    at least it wasn’t high speed lead poisoning….

A non-treating physician suggested on Fox News that Mr. Gray an asthmatic, may have injured himself in the van while suffering a seizure. According to this physician at John’s Hopkins, seizures are not uncommon in untreated asthmatics.

Much can be discerned after the type of vertebral fracture suffered by Mr. Gray is revealed. Until the autopsy report is released including imaging reports, the cause of death remains speculative.

I am somewhat amused in reading the article that the
author goes in to great deal about unsubstantiated
speculation, then goes on to offer their
own unsubstantiated speculation.

    “Hypothetical” != “unsubstantiated” 🙂

    There’s a difference between unsubstantiated claims based ZERO credible evidence — such as claims that Gray’s larynx was crushed– and making reasonable inferences based upon credible evidence.

    That’s especially true when the inferences are transparent and the actual evidence supporting them is presented critically, as done here–and UNLIKE, I would note, the claims that Gray’s larynx was crushed.

    But it’s OK, haters gonna hate, especially when the Progressive narrative is disrupted. 🙂

    That’s almost certainly why the Gray autopsy results have not been released–they would disrupt the Progressive narrative.

    Clearly, if autopsy substantiated police criminal misconduct any reasonable official would have released the information and appropriately criminally charged the officers in an effort to mitigate the riots (and simply do justice)

    Thus we can reasonably INFER (see what I did there?) that the autopsy results do NOT substantiate police criminal misconduct, and thus are harmful to the Progressive narrative being endlessly recycled (e.g., Brown, Garner, et al.).


    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Yes, Andrew, and “hypothetically speaking”, if the autopsy results are eventually released to the public, and if the results are inconsistent with excessive force by the arresting officers, and if presently accepted facts are shown to be in error (i.e. crushed larynx), then the Progressive Left will simply say that regardless of the cause of death for Freddie Gray, his case is symbolic of the over-reactive use of force by white police officers against black suspects in the inner city.

      Unfortunately for Baltimore and for Ferguson, protestors can’t hypothetically riot, hypothetically loot, and hypothetically destroy the businesses and livelihoods of innocent residents of the inner city.

      Who is making the decision not to release the autopsy report?
      Could the family release the report if it chose to do so?

        The full autopsy report will still probably be a while in the making. It takes time, especially when it’s a of a figure of great public interest. IIRC, Breitbart’s full autopsy wasn’t released for well over a month, leading to unfortunate and embarrassing conspiracy theories taking hold amongst certain fringe-dweller blogs.

        Baseless speculation by either side in this particular case before the facts are known is probably going to lead to embarrassment and ex post facto stealth-edited blog posts down the road.

Richard Aubrey | April 30, 2015 at 8:56 am

A useful discussion of injuries which may have occurred.
Okay, so Maryland has a stupid knife law. Not a law against stupid knives, I mean. A stupid law. But so what? What was the probable cause for chasing the guy in the first place? Did the cops know he had an illegal knife on him–known as “being properly dressed” in most jurisdictions–when they saw him? If they didn’t know, then,, according to reports, they chased him because he ran. After which, after a search, they found probable cause.
Had Gray remained alive, this would’t be a legit bust but the can’t-beat-the-ride thing would still have been part of his history with law enforcement.
One of the supposed results of exposure to lead in early childhood is permanent deficient impulse control. When you see something really stupid going on and you ask, “What were they thinking?” chances are they weren’t.
A case where I used to live was a couple of guys in the inner city killed a woman who had a red convertible. After which they drove it around the neighborhood where she and they lived. Got caught, too.
But, anyway, is it probable cause if a citizen sees a cop and runs away?

    Ragspierre in reply to Richard Aubrey. | April 30, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Just for perspective, San Antonio, Texas has a law prohibiting lock-back knives carried by anyone not in a trade that uses them, while working.

    If you read the charge sheet, Gray was SELLING a switch-blade. Now, dunno if that’s bogus or legit, but…

    A guy with his rap sheet makes eye contact with a cop and takes off running. There is your probably cause.

    Let me clear up this Probable Cause confusion. First of all, a law enforcement office does not need any reason to chase someone. He only needs a reason to stop and detain someone. And, he does not need probable cause to stop someone, only the much weaker reasonable suspicion, that the person may be involved in a criminal act.

    Here you have a man in a a socioeconomically depressed area who, upon seeing police officers, runs away and will not stop on command. This is highly suspicious, but does not necessarily rise to the level of reasonable suspicion necessary for a stop. Now, if this area is known for drug dealing or other street level criminal enterprises, this, together with Gray’s behavior may well raise sufficient RS to justify the stop. The frisk may also be legally justified if the officer can articulate reasonable grounds to believe that Gray may be armed.

    At this point, the exact nature of Gray’s injuries are unknown to the lay community, as the autopsy and other medical records have not been released. Once that knowledge is made available and is analyzed in the context of time and location, it will be much easier to eliminate potential causes of the injury. It may turn out that Gray suffered the injuries through an intentional application of unnecessary force. This could result in injuries which were intentional, in type and scope or accidental. It could turn out that Gray suffered the injuries through an unintentional accidental application of force, such as falling against a narrow object, such as the bench in the prisoner transport wagon. Or it could turn out the the injuries were self inflicted. Until such analysis can be made, the cause of the injuries is strictly conjecture.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Richard Aubrey. | April 30, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    They chased him because he ran from them in an area known to police to be a drug-trafficking area. They may also have known that Freddie had dozens of prior drug-related arrests.

    According to the SCOTUS, this scenario presents reasonable suspicion for the police to pursue the suspect. It is not a question of probable cause at that point.

    Here’s an article about the decision:

    You can look up the case for exact details in the ruling.

It is always futile, and stupid, to resist law enforcement while being arrested. They are going to win 100% of the time. Of course without such resistance, we’d never have shows like COPS on television.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to walls. | April 30, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    They could always run more “rescue the puppy from the overturned van” or pull the reefer from behind the ear of the guy “Smoking marijuana? What makes you think that?”

The cat on the “it may be hard to watch” recording of the transfer of Gray off the ground and into the van refers several times to “tazing” in his narrative.

That could account for LOTS of things here, especially if Gray was tazed either on his bike or off it, and hit something going down.

Or it could mean the guy recording was full of crap. I expect further developments.

    Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | April 30, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Another thing to note from the video…

    Freddy stops flopping around when the officers (rather gently, IMNHO) are trying to stuff him into the van.

    He stands on the bumper/step of the van, and gingerly ducks himself into the compartment.

    Watch and see if you don’t agree.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | April 30, 2015 at 4:32 pm

      I think Freddie was looking for a lawsuit and deliberately injured himself. He apparently didn’t know his limitations caused by the lead poisoning.

      I didn’t see any taser deployed. AFAIK, that was just some ghetto clown screaming about broken legs and tasers. Anything to start the bowl rolling. Freddie’s legs seemed to work fine when he hopped into the van. The suspect making the cops drag them thing is old school ghetto stuff. I saw it myself in Oakland in the 70s, many times since, and we saw plenty of it in L.A. in the early 90s/Rodney King riots. It happens all over. It started as one of the earlier “optics” tactics for thug rioting used to make the cops look bad and to continue non-cooperation.

      Ragspierre in reply to Ragspierre. | April 30, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      As always, down-thumbing morons, you are invited to…you know…use whatever words you have or can buy on the corner and put it out there.

      Don’t be skeered, you cowardly aspholes.

Another incident where the arrestee started fighting with the officers. I noticed that there are several officers on scene assisting in the arrest. They don’t do that unless there has been some sort of physical altercation. So I imagine that the fight may have caused the officers to use whatever method they normally use to get a subject under control.

So it’s likely his injuries happened beforehand and he may have exacerbated it in back of the wagon.

    healthguyfsu in reply to heyjoojoo. | April 30, 2015 at 11:23 am

    He was charged with “resistance without incident”

      heyjoojoo in reply to healthguyfsu. | April 30, 2015 at 11:37 am

      What does this mean? Never heard of this.

        In most jurisdiction it means resisting arrest, but without injury to the officers. So, suspect was non-compliant, pulling away, but did not actually strike out or cause injury.

        It’s a relevant distinction, I think.

        Certainly suspects who resist arrest in a manner that DOES cause LEO injury find their lives vastly more complicated than might otherwise be the case.

        –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

Interesting. What does that mean?

Midwest Rhino | April 30, 2015 at 11:48 am

It seems probable to me, from the video, that whatever spinal injury occurred happened in the take down with officers placing weight on his spine. If it had occurred before, as in a fall during the chase, it seems unlikely he would have resisted so much. It also seems clear (to my non-professional eye) that his mobility was impaired after that point, even though he uses a leg a little to get in the van.

This may relate to how they tell injured football players or other victims to lie still, and then they strap them on a board securely, as the injury process is ongoing. They may feel fine, but then collapse, as adrenalin subsides and swelling and movement do more damage. Between convulsing, or spasms, or writhing in pain … much more damage could have been done all by himself, plus the stops to try to constrain him more. Certainly lifting him by his arms did harm, and his cries of pain should have been heeded then, in hindsight.

The observer thought his not walking was due to Tazer use, so it seems to verify they didn’t beat him. They say they have GPS showing he was not given the rough ride … I guess they don’t have dashcam.

The key as I see it will be, at what point should they have realized he needed more serious medical attention. I’d surmise whatever officer came down hard on the spine knows he did it, but likely didn’t realize it at the time.

All hypothetical guessing. But it sure seems such a story could have come out long ago, unless some top person was on the phone with Jarret/Obama, about letting things heat up for a few days.

LOL I post this at hotair then read this

and as I have said all along until the autopsy reports are out nothing any of us say mean a damned thing.
did he get a cracked vertebrae during the takedown (not hard to do especially if he had brittle bones) and then swelling around nerves which then cause spasms?
not sure if anyone here ever thought about it but is a good possibility.
it used to be as an MP (Army) we were taught to try to default to arm bar takedowns vs body following head/neck due to this issue.
you could be in a stable position not moving and subject could twist and actually, due to leverage of rest of body, cause spinal damage.

and until autopsy reports are out my speculation means nothing too.

dmacleo on April 30, 2015 at 12:33 PM

LOL. The self-styled “wolverines” of the Nuthouse blog finally get themselves noticed… albeit not in the most flattering way.

Washington Post: Those stories that Freddie Gray had a preexisting spinal injury are totally bogus

Do tell!

    Ragspierre in reply to Amy in FL. | April 30, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    From at least back in the Trayvon days, I’ve been warning folks to look VERY carefully at the stuff that the Treehouse publishes.

    Often, they’re full of crap.

      “Boom! Seems legit!”
      That’s about to become my new go-to response when I see something too ridiculous for any but the most credulous to believe 🙂

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Ragspierre. | April 30, 2015 at 5:03 pm

      I looked at that site through a link to it posted by a member here at LI during the Michael Brown debacle. They seize on any little thing, like the business or personal background of some relative of a neighbor of so-and-so’s, extrapolate all kinds of nonsense speculations from it, and then come the conspiracy theories from Mars.

      And the folks running the joint post some nasty stuff to their posters, like some kind of Herr Commandant has spoken. Pretty weird.

    murkyv in reply to Amy in FL. | April 30, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    If you had actually read the Treehouse article, you would have seen in the first paragraph that they were approaching the article from the other site with caution.

    It was a poster on Free Republic that debunked the original article within an hour or so of it getting posted there

Phillep Harding | April 30, 2015 at 3:04 pm

A second prisoner? No comments about a rough ride from him?

Worth a look, IMO.

The inquiry/decision tree here is simple…

Was Freddie injured…

1. prior to police contact

2. during police take-down

3. during transport

4. post transport?

Who caused Freddie’s injury…

1. some other actor

2. police

3. Freddie?

Was Freddie’s injury…

1. caused by excessive use of force

2. accidental

3. negligence

4. self-infliction (consciously or involuntarily)?

Those are the only questions that have to be answered, seems to me….

    Seems about right.

    Of course we may need to distribute responsibility (liability) among several branches of that tree, but that’s typical of civil cases.

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

      Ragspierre in reply to Andrew Branca. | April 30, 2015 at 4:58 pm

      Proportionate responsibility/contributory negligence/responsible third (forth, fifth) party.

      LOVE that crap…!!! British Petroleum knows ALLLLLLL about it…now…

    gregjgrose in reply to Ragspierre. | April 30, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Fulfillment of duty to protect? (if that’s the right phrase, or more importantly, if there is such a thing)

    That is, no matter when/how he was injured, once he was injured AND in custody did Baltimore PD do right by him? If they didn’t know how severely injured he was, should/would they have, had they exercised the proper level of care?

      gregjgrose in reply to gregjgrose. | April 30, 2015 at 6:18 pm

      >> Proportionate responsibility/contributory negligence/responsible third (forth, fifth) party.

      OK, that answered that, never mind…

      Ragspierre in reply to gregjgrose. | April 30, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      No, you were onto a good line of inquiry. A Federal investigation could find that Baltimore PD (or several other agencies) failed in their duties to Freddie concerning the civil rights of an arrestee, and then a patient/prisoner.

      And, though that’s outside my wheelhouse, a lot of that could be BESIDE the point of who or what induced his injuries.

      But one thing is almost certainly true; it had NOTHING to do with race.

Henry Hawkins | April 30, 2015 at 6:07 pm

Every time somebody dies in the media, look around and there’s Branca. Ain’t sayin’, just sayin’.

    Ragspierre in reply to Henry Hawkins. | April 30, 2015 at 6:10 pm


    And doesn’t he make money writing books about shooting people…???

    (Kidding, Andrew. Don’t shoot me!)

      Hahaha, I write books about NOT shooting people. 🙂

      –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

        Henry Hawkins in reply to Andrew Branca. | April 30, 2015 at 6:29 pm

        I’m kidding, of course, about a murderous Branca, but my father, a career LEO with Detroit PD, told me about a funny case where a Traffic Court judge noticed an older lady had been a witness in four different accident cases in just a few months, which stretches credulity as mere coincidence. It took them a year, but she was investigated and charged with two counts of perjury, plus numerous moving violations she’d perjured herself to get out of. She was causing the accidents and lying to get out of them, all the way up the chain into court. Apparently no one checked her record – she’d been suspended 4 times over 40 years for too many points due to post-accident tickets. Kamikaze granny. I’m guessing they didn’t run Traffic Courts too tightly back then (1960s), lol.

As usual excellent analysis. Unfortunately we just do not have enough facts to do more than guess what happened. There are too many variables.

    It is notable that the people responsible for the non-transparency are the Progressive overlords of Baltimore.

    Wonder WHY? 🙂

    –Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

    Ragspierre in reply to EBL. | April 30, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    Well, a few fact-ish things seem to be distilling out of the murk and muck.

    Freddie didn’t suffer a “severed spine” in the lurid sense.

    He didn’t suffer a “crushed larynx”.

    He was not injured by the arresting officers.

    It seems pretty definitive that he was injured during transport.

    He made enough of a rumpus that he was put in leg irons at some point.

Sammy Finkelman | May 1, 2015 at 11:13 am

I had thought maybe Freddie Gray had taken some kind of a drug to which he had a reaction causing convulsions, but here you say this can happen as a result of an injury.

The other prisoner did not hear anything that would indicate he was being beaten, but he did hear what seems to be convulsions. He also didn’t think Freddie Gray was trying to injure himself on purpose, mostly because that would be an idiotic thing to do.