According to an autopsy report obtained by The Baltimore Sun, Freddie Gray suffered single a “high-energy” spinal injury before his death—an injury that likely occurred while he was being carried in the back of a Baltimore Police Department transport van.
The report, which was completed April 30, ruled Gray’s death a homicide because, “through acts of omission,” the involved officers neglected to follow safety procedures like restraining Gray with a seatbelt. The medical examiner’s office wrote that Gray’s ankles and wrists were shackled, and that he was likely thrown into a wall at some point during the ride, according to the Sun. Gray tested positively for opiates and cannabinoids upon his arrival at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, according to the autopsy.
The facts in the autopsy as laid out by the Sun largely dovetail with an earlier report by local ABC affiliate WJLA, which cited law enforcement officials who claimed that a wound on Gray’s head matched a bolt from the back of the van. Both the medical examiner’s office and WJLA’s sources allege that no evidence suggests Gray sustained any injuries before or during his arrest; according to a timeline laid out by the Sun, he was likely injured between the second and fourth stops the van made between picking him up and arriving at a police precinct 45 minutes later. (The bolt is not specifically mentioned in the Sun’s report.)
The Baltimore Police Department has an ugly history of giving “rough rides”—deliberately jarring trips meant to shock and injure passengers—in its transport vans. In 2005, the relatives of a man who was rendered paraplegic after a ride in a BPD van were awarded $7.4 million in a lawsuit.
Caesar Goodson, the driver of the van that carried Gray, was indicted for second-degree depraved heart murder, and three other officers were indicted for involuntary manslaughter. The remaining two officers involved in Gray’s arrest were indicted on lesser charges. All six have pled not guilty.