, WASHINGTON, Apr 20 – An African American man who suffered severe neck injuries while being arrested in Baltimore last week died, sparking local protests and the promise of an investigation.
The case comes after a long line of recent US police killings of black men that critics say demonstrates officers’ racial bias and an over reliance on deadly force when dealing with suspects.
Freddie Gray, 25, was stopped April 12 and somehow suffered a broken vertebra during his arrest, officials and local media said. According to the Baltimore Sun, police have not said how he was injured or why he was arrested.
“While in police custody for committing no crime – for which they had no justification for making the arrest except he was a black man running – his spine was virtually severed, 80 percent severed, in the neck area,” William Murphy Jr, an attorney for Gray’s family, said at a press conference, according to the Sun.
About 100 local residents and activists gathered outside a local police station demanding more information.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said officials were investigating the incident.
“I want citizens to know exactly how it happened and if necessary, I will ensure we will hold the right people accountable,” she told a news conference.
Baltimore is the largest city in the state of Maryland, located about 35 miles northeast of Washington.
A series of recent killings of unarmed black men by largely white police officers has sparked nationwide protests, charges of racism and revived the debate about excessive use of police force.
Earlier this month, white police officer Michael Slager was charged with murder after a video surfaced of him fatally shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back in the city of North Charleston in South Carolina.