There’s a news story I’m looking at, and it goes something like this. Four men went out in a car at night, and only three came back. Alive. The fourth went to the morgue. The three are facing hard time, one convicted and sentenced so far.
Wait. That’s last week’s story. Here’s this weeks story:
The Baltimore Police Department on Tuesday identified the six officers who have been suspended in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man who was taken to a hospital with a severed spinal cord after being chased and arrested.
Mr. Gray died Sunday, a week after his arrest.
Lt. Brian Rice was the senior officer involved, and officials have said it was a lieutenant on the scene, part of a team of officers patrolling on bicycles, who made eye contact with two men — one of them Mr. Gray — before they fled on foot, prompting the officers to pursue them. Lieutenant Rice, 41, is an 18-year veteran of the department.
See the screen shot from the TV news. It shows the late Mr. Gray after a well-publicized take down on a Baltimore street. At least two people had video running and picked up police struggling to subdue a very vocal Mr. Gray. And he wound up with a broken neck and a crushed larynx.
Protesters are shouting, and police are defensive. Talking heads on TV are pointing to the video showing the raucous take down and trying to figure out at what point the broken neck took place. My take is the protesters should get off the take down and focus on something else. Take a look at the photo. That’s Freddie Gray standing, on his own. My complete lack of medical experience does not keep me from commenting, and it does not make sense that Freddie Gray could be standing there with his spine 80% separated.
Then the doors to the van closed.
The next the outside world saw of Freddie Gray he was in medical emergency, and within an hour he was in a coma, from which he never recovered. Sometime after the image above somebody killed Freddie Gray. These people are the police.
We have again a case where a number of people leave in a vehicle and that number, less one, arrive alive. As in the the opening paragraph, somebody needs to do hard time.
A small problem is what we call the blue wall. The people with Mr. Gray at the time of his killing were police. Only police. As seen in case after case, police protect their own, even to the level of perjury. As one former New York City police officer recounted on the news this morning, “If you snitch your career is over.” And more. Does the name Serpico ring a bell?
Francesco Vincent Serpico (born April 14, 1936) is an American-Italian retired American New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer who is famous for blowing the whistle on police corruption in the late 1960s and early 1970s, an act that compelled Mayor John V. Lindsay to appoint the landmark Knapp Commission to investigate the NYPD. Much of Serpico’s fame came after the release of the 1973 film Serpico, which starred Al Pacino in the title role, for which Pacino was nominated for an Oscar.
After it became known that Serpico had dropped a dime on criminals in the police department he was shot by a drug suspect while fellow officers stood by and refused to help him. That’s the blue wall in action.
How is this going to play out? There’s little doubt the city of Baltimore is going to pay money. It’s been done before:
Relatives of Dondi Johnson Sr., who was left a paraplegic after a 2005 police van ride, won a $7.4 million verdict against police officers. A year earlier, Jeffrey Alston was awarded $39 million by a jury after he became paralyzed from the neck down as the result of a van ride. Others have also received payouts after filing lawsuits.
Apparently a police arrest in Baltimore can be worth a sensational video or two. But it’s the ride to the station that’s going to get you.