Lawyer says Baltimore police had no cause to stop man who died

World Today

Edward Brown speaks at a protest outside City Hall about Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Monday, April 20, 2015. Baltimore's top police officials, mayor and prosecutor sought to calm a "community on edge" Monday while investigating how Gray suffered a fatal spine injury while under arrest. Six officers have been suspended, but investigators say they still don't know how it happened. (Amy Davis/The Baltimore Sun via AP) Edward Brown speaks at a protest outside City Hall about Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Monday, April 20, 2015. Baltimore’s top police officials, mayor and prosecutor sought to calm a “community on edge” Monday while investigating how Gray suffered a fatal spine injury while under arrest. Six officers have been suspended, but investigators say they still don’t know how it happened. (Amy Davis/The Baltimore Sun via AP)

The lawyer for the family of a black man who died of spinal injuries he sustained during an arrest in Baltimore, said he believes the police had no reason to stop the man in the first place.

Freddie Gray, 25, was arrested on April 12 after police “made eye contact” with him and another man and the two started running, authorities said. Gray was placed in a transport van, and roughly 30 minutes later was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Gray died Sunday of what Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez described as “a significant spinal injury” at a Monday news conference.

Gray’s death, which comes amid a national debate about the deaths of black men at the hands of police, has prompted angry protests and comes six months after Baltimore officials released a plan to reduce police brutality and misconduct. The plan followed a request by city officials to the U.S. Justice Department to review police policies and procedures.

What led to Gray’s injury and why Gray was initially pursued by police is still unknown.

According to court documents, Officer Garrett Miller sought to charge Gray with carrying a switchblade, which was discovered in Gray’s pocket after he was stopped. But at a news conference Monday, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said “we know having a knife is not necessarily a crime.”

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts also said the reason for Gray’s stop is “a question we have to dig into.”

Billy Murphy, the lawyer hired by Gray’s family, said he believes the officers had no probable cause to stop Gray.

“They’ve made concessions on lack of probable cause,” Murphy said of officials. “Running while black is not probable cause.”

Officials on Monday vowed transparency and pledged to hold those found responsible accountable. Batts said the investigation will be completed by May 1 and the results will be sent to the state attorney’s office to determine whether criminal charges will be filed. Batts also said he is ordering that police review and rewrite “effective immediately” its policies on moving prisoners and providing them with medical attention.

Story by the Associated Press