With a new name seemingly entering the lexicon every couple of weeks — from the high-profile cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Walter Scott to the less heralded, like the late Jason Harrison of Dallas — we've all watched one grisly story of apparent police brutality after another. And last week brought another name to the forefront: What does the Freddie Gray video show?
To be clear, you're not going to see that video here. The decision whether or not to watch such a video, footage of a person in the painful last moments of their life, lies solely with you as an individual. But with so many instances of this sort of thing recently (the shocking, grimly illuminating video of the killing of Walter Scott in particular), there's a pretty good chance that some people will want to know what happened, but won't want to subject themselves to it personally. So rest assured — while some links may route you to other articles containing the video, you'll see no such thing on this page.
First, some necessary background — Freddie Gray was a 25-year-old Baltimore man, and he died on Sunday after spending a week in a coma. He'd sustained the critical injuries one week prior, while being arrested by Baltimore Police Department officers, who've since stated that Gray was fleeing the authorities amid suspicion of drug dealing.
On Monday, as detailed by The Washington Post, Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez stated that he knew Gray died of a "tragic spinal cord injury," but that he didn't know when or how that injury occurred.
What we don’t know, and what we need to get to, is how that injury occurred ... when Mr. Gray was put in that van, he could talk, he was upset, and when he was taken out of that van, he could not talk and he could not breathe.
The attorney for Gray's family, longtime Baltimore lawyer Billy Murphy, has accused the department of withholding details of Gray's arrest "until they develop a version of events that will absolve them of all responsibility," as detailed by NBC News.
So, the video. Unlike some recent, high-profile examples, this isn't a video of somebody's death, or even of a particularly violent altercation — rather, it seemingly shows the aftermath of some kind of incident that's left Gray in poor physical condition. At the start, Gray is on the ground, with some officers huddled around him. As the grainy cell-phone camera jostles slightly, Gray is apparently lifted up off the ground to be taken to a nearby paddy wagon, and a woman's voice rings out: "Hey, his leg looks broke!"
It's a little hard to make out, the woman's assessment appears to be right — whatever state Gray was in at that moment, he does look injured. When he's picked up off the ground, his legs look weak and bent, and when the officers begin hauling him towards the vehicle, they appear to simply drag. The camera pulls in as they go, and the same woman's voice is heard again: "His leg broke and y'all dragging him like that!?"
As they approach the rear doors to the wagon, a short, piercing groan is heard — while there's no way to know for sure, based on the location and volume of the sound (and his evident poor condition), it seems like the groan came from Gray. At this point, only Gray's legs are visible from around the edge of the vehicle, and then it ends.
Basically, there's no indication what caused his debilitating injuries — as NBC News notes, Murphy said in a statement that Gray's spinal cord was 80 percent severed at the neck. Although six BPD officers have reportedly been suspended over the incident, what will ultimately happen as a result of Gray's death is still a pretty big unknown. At the very least, however, you can be sure that there's going to be a big push for further investigation, with a high-profile attorney and a galvanized community working in Gray's service.