A Washington Post report on Wednesday night suggested that Freddie Gray purposely caused the spinal cord injury that killed him while in Baltimore police custody — but the witness at the center of that report now says he was misinterpreted.
Gray, a 25-year-old black man, died from a spinal cord injury that protesters suspect happened during a rough ride in a police van, in which he wasn't wearing a seat belt, a violation of Baltimore Police Department protocol. But the Washington Post's Peter Herman reported, based on a document leaked by an anonymous source, that another detainee in the van told investigators he thought Gray was trying to hurt himself by banging his head against the van.
But the detainee, Donta Allen, told WBAL TV's Jayne Miller that he never actually saw Gray in the van, since they were divided by a metal barrier, and was unsure if Gray even had enough room to hurt himself. "There's no space in there where … a man can hurt himself intentionally by himself," Allen said. "Before he got in that van, he was hurt."
Allen acknowledged that he told investigators that he initially thought Gray had hurt himself, but he said he now thinks he was wrong. "All I heard was, like, a little banging for about four seconds," Allen said. "I'm thinking he's banging his head this whole time. Now I know what was happening. They did something to him. His body be wobbling back there. You know what I mean? Because he can't hurt himself back in no paddy wagon, yo."
Baltimore police completed their initial investigation into Gray's death on Thursday, but they have released few details to avoid prejudicing their inquiry. Investigators still haven't revealed how Gray received the fatal spinal cord injury, or whether the six officers involved in his arrest caused it.
Tense protests and some riots have erupted in Baltimore over the past week as protesters demand answers over Gray's death, leading to a weeklong 10 pm curfew and the enlisted help of Maryland's National Guard.