While the records were not officially released to the public, the Baltimore Sun obtained a copy of Freddy Gray Jr.’s autopsy report. Apparently, Freddy Gray suffered a single high-energy injury to his neck and spine. The state Medical Examiner’s Office determined that this injury was sustained while Freddy Gray was in the back of a police vehicle. His death was ruled a homicide, not an accident, because standard safety procedures were not followed by the arresting or transporting officers.
Specifically, the medical examiner stated that “through acts of omission” Freddy Gray was not belted into the vehicle. At the same time, the Baltimore man had his wrists and ankles shackled, which puts him “at risk for an unsupported fall during acceleration or deceleration of the van,” according to the examiner.Mr. Gray also asked for medical help and reported that he could not breathe and could not get up at one point in his transport. Request for medical help were ignored by the officers.
Assistant Medical Examiner Carol H. Allan did not find any evidence of previous injury to Freddy Gray’s spine. This further supports the notion that reports of Freddy Gray having a preceding spinal surgery were indeed false.
The van transporting Mr. Gray made at least five stops to pick up various detainees in Western Baltimore. The medical examiner concluded that the lethal injury probably occurred between the second and fourth stops, and perhaps between the second and third stops.
Under normal circumstances, physically healthy individuals who are not shackled are able to anticipate turns and brace themselves against potential injury. Any falls could be supported with hands and feet. Allan presumes that Gray could have gotten to his feet during the ride, but with his hands and ankles shackled and being unable to see out of the van to anticipate turns, the man was at a high risk for an unsupported fall.
Given the location of the injury to Gray spinal cord found on autopsy, it is likely that Gray would have experienced the loss of motor and sensory function in his limbs. Moreover, the injury was apparently high enough in the spinal cord to have “direct effects” on his ability to breathe.
At this point, it seems clear that Freddy Gray died from injuries sustained in the back of a police van. It is now up to the courts to decide whether the police officers involved in his arrest and transport were culpable of homicide.
Officer William Porter was the first to be tried in this case on a charge of manslaughter. Judge Barry Williams ruled a mistrial after jurors became deadlocked during deliberations. A new trial for officer Porter has been set to start on June 13, 2016.