In the Case of Freddie Gray: Washington Post Report on Leaked Police Document Claiming That Gray Had Banged Against the Walls of the Police Van and Tried to Injure Himself Disputed

BaltimorePoliceBy Elaine Magliaro

Peter Hermann of The Washington Post reported last night that–according to a police document that the paper had obtained–a prisoner who had shared the police transport vehicle with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”

Freddie Gray

Freddie Gray

Hermann said that the prisoner, “who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him.” Hermann added that the prisoner’s statement “is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court.” The Washington Post was reportedly “given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.”


The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.

Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12. The 25-year-old had suffered a spinal injury and died a week later…”

But Andrew Hart of Huffington Post reported early this morning that the “initial shock of the report quickly transitioned to uncertainty and skepticism after questions were raised over the details.”

Last night, Jayne Miller of WBAL told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes that the story in the Post was “inconsistent” with what her outlet has reported. Miller said, “We have reported for some time that by the time that prisoner is loaded into that van, Freddie Gray was unresponsive. Secondly we have no medical evidence that Freddie Gray suffered any injury that would indicate that he had injured himself.” In addition, Miller noted that Gray had only been in the police van with the other prisoner “for the final five minutes of the ride.”


There is “no evidence [Gray was] banging [his] head against van,” Miller tweeted. Jane Cook, an attorney for the Gray family, called the report “speculation” as she had seen no evidence supporting it.

Jason Downs, another attorney for the Gray family, told the Post that the prisoner’s statement was new to them. Down was quoted as saying, “We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord. We question the accuracy of the police reports we’ve seen thus far, including the police report that says Mr. Gray was arrested without force or incident.”

Hart said that “the timeline of Gray’s arrest remains incomplete.” Yet, according to Hart, “Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said that before the second prisoner was loaded into the van, an officer had to ‘pick [Gray] up off the floor and place him on the seat.’” Police admitted that Gray “asked for medical attention at this point.” Police said that Gray “had earlier been placed in leg irons after an officer felt he was becoming ‘irate.’” Hart added that police had also admitted that Gray had been handcuffed but not secured while he was being transported in the police van.

Jayne Miller also noted the following in a tweet: “BPD Commissioner Anthony Batts on 4/23 told us second prisoner in police van said Freddie Gray was ‘mostly quiet’”.

Hart said that there was another issue that arose from the report in the The Washington Post: The second prisoner was not able to see Freddie Gray because the two men “would have been separated by a metal partition in the van.” Hart wrote, “The prisoner who allegedly gave the account is in jail, and the Post has not been able to reach him for comment.”

Hart reported that the affidavit that the Post had obtained “was in an application for a search warrant seeking the seizure of the uniform worn by one of the officers involved in the episode with Gray.” According to Hart, that document “is part of the investigation into Gray’s death, and the police investigator who wrote it is unnamed.”

The Post has said it has no other evidence that supports the “purported claims of the second prisoner.”

On Wednesday night, Rachel Maddow noted that the leak to the Post was the first information that we have regarding the investigation into Gray’s death while in police custody. Maddow said, “Leaks like this always serve somebody’s purpose. We have no idea who gave this to the Post.”

Hart said that Baltimore Police “have maintained that they do not know how Gray suffered the fatal injury.” He added that Police Commissioner Batts “has admitted to mistakes in how Gray’s arrest was handled, saying he should have received medical attention and that he should have been secured while in the back of the police van.”


Reporter Doubts Report Freddie Gray Injured Himself (Huffington Post)

Prisoner in van said Freddie Gray was ‘trying to injure himself,’ document says (Washington Post)

Disputed Report: Freddie Gray Hurt Himself in Police Van? (NBC News)

Witness says Freddie Gray tried to injure himself, but questions remain (RT)

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6 Responses to In the Case of Freddie Gray: Washington Post Report on Leaked Police Document Claiming That Gray Had Banged Against the Walls of the Police Van and Tried to Injure Himself Disputed

  1. Mike Spindell says:


    Isn’t it interesting that in almost all these “police investigations” of themselves way after the fact some “evidence” arises to show the deceased either deserved it, or brought it on themselves? In this case it is someone in jail, awaiting trial, who we know couldn’t have observed Mr. Gray. Perhaps this “unknown source” will be facing little or no Jail time?

  2. Elaine M. says:


    Report: Freddie Gray Suffered Fatal Head Wound in Back of Police Van

    Freddie Gray sustained a fatal injury after his head slammed into the back of a police van, according to several law enforcement sources who spoke with WJLA.

    According to the sources—who were reportedly briefed on the official Baltimore police investigation handed over to prosecutors this morning—a wound on Gray’s head matches a bolt from the back of the van. The investigation, the sources claim, also found no evidence that Gray suffered his injury during his arrest, or at any other time prior to entering the van.

    If true, the WJLA story would contradict a report leaked last night to the Washington Post which claimed that Gray somehow broke his own back inside the van; the sources who spoke to ABC affiliate said the official probe didn’t determine whether the injuries were self-inflicted or if they were suffered involuntarily.

    • Mike Spindell says:

      “If true, the WJLA story would contradict a report leaked last night to the Washington Post which claimed that Gray somehow broke his own back inside the van;”


      Re: That story I saw the man it referred to on TV tonight. The story leaked said the man heard banging on the side of the van as if Gray was banging his head. On TV tonight this man said the sound from Gray’s area of the van was negligible for the whole time he was in there. Wonder how FOX is reporting the rumor?

  3. Elaine M. says:


    I just found this:

    Baltimore man detained with Freddie Gray: Police are using me to ‘cover their ass’

    New statements from the Baltimore man who was imprisoned with Freddie Gray in a police van on the night of Gray’s death contradict authorities’ account of the night in question, a local television reporter told MSNBC host Chris Hayes on Thursday.

    “The key thing to take away is, he did not see Mr. Gray, he couldn’t have seen Mr. Gray,” WBAL-TV’s Jayne Miller said of Donta Allen, who was listed as a source in a police document indicating that Gray purposefully injured himself on the night in question. “I asked him, ‘Did you hear [Gray] say anything?’ He didn’t hear him say anything.”

    An affadavit for a search warrant stated that, according to Allen, Gray was “banging against the walls” of the van on April 12. Gray died a week after being taken into custody.

    Hayes broadcast the entirety of Miller’s interview with Gray, during which he denies giving police any information, and accused authorities of using him as a scapegoat for their failure to provide Gray with medical assistance.

    “They waited 30 to 35 minutes to get [Gray] some medical attention because they want to cover their ass,” Allen told Miller. “So now, since they can’t cover their ass on that, they’re trying to use me to cover their ass.”

    Miller told Hayes that when police did eventually seek treatment for Gray, paramedics thought they were being dispatched to take care of a broken arm, instead of having to bring him back from not having a pulse when he arrived at the police department’s western district headquarters.

    “That’s a really significant difference because time is of the essence with this kind of injury,” saying it was similar to the spinal injury that paralyzed actor Christopher Reeve. She said her station believes Gray was injured during the first 10 to 15 minutes after being placed in the van.

  4. bettykath says:

    Let’s see if the prosecution here is better than it was for Trayvon’s killer.

  5. bettykath says:

    All six officers involved in the arrest and transport of Freddie Gray, the 25-year-old man who died under unexplained circumstances in police custody early this month, will face charges for their roles in his death.

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