As usually happens in cases like the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore, at some point people start to look at the “victim” once the knee-jerk reaction to blame the police begins to fade. Especially when answers aren’t forthcoming in the “official” investigation. Some may be nothing more than rumors and some come from information that has “leaked” out from the official investigation.
The Fourth Estate blog first claimed that “Freddie Gray received spinal and neck surgery a week before we was arrested, and was allegedly receiving a large structured settlement from Allstate Insurance” as the result of a car accident. The blog cites court records that show Gray alleged a “work injury, medical malpractice and auto accident” in a lawsuit filed in Howard County.
The Baltimore Sun examined those court records Wednesday and found that the case had nothing to do with a car accident or a spine injury. Instead, they are connected to a lawsuit alleging that Gray and his sister were injured by exposure to lead paint.
In her documents, Fredericka Gray checked “other” when asked to describe the type of accident. She also said that the date of the accident was “94/99” and that she was a minor when the case was settled.
In his documents, Freddie Gray checked “work injury, medical malpractice and auto accident” as the type of accident. When asked to explain, he also wrote something that is unreadable. He also wrote something unreadable when asked if he was a minor when the case was settled.
Attorneys for the Gray family confirmed the lead paint lawsuit referred to in the court records and said, “We have no information or evidence at this point to indicate that there is a prior pre-existing spinal injury. It’s a rumor.”
That being said, the other story now circulating alleges that Freddie Gray was banging himself around in the back of the police van throughout the ride. According to a document obtained by The Washington Post, there was another prisoner in the van with Freddie who told investigators that he believes Gray “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”
The other prisoner, unidentified but reportedly still in jail, said Gray was “banging against the walls” of the transport van throughout the ride. An attorney Jason Downs representing the Gray family said, “We disagree with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord.” He went on to say, “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.”
As the investigation continues, we are sure to hear more about Mr. Freddie Gray and we will continue to attempt to separate fact from fiction whenever possible. Mr. Grays death, resulting from a nearly severed spine while in police custody, sparked protests and riots in Baltimore for several days. Only now is the city beginning to recover. As the emotions ebb a bit, clearer heads should prevail and the focus of investigation will remain on the police, but will continue to look at Mr. Gray as well.