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Baltimore mayor demands answers in death of African American in custody

Baltimore braces for more protests over Freddie Gray death

The mayor of Baltimore said Friday that she wanted know how Freddie Gray was fatally injured while in police custody as the city braced for a weekend of protests.

Gray, 25, an African American, was arrested April 12 and transported by police van. Somehow his spine sustained a serious injury that put him in a coma and led to his death a week later.

“I don’t know why, just that somebody died in police custody,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told reporters at a televised news conference.

“I want answers,” she said.

Three agencies are investigating the death: the U.S. Department of Justice, state prosecutors and city police, the mayor said. “We will determine exactly how this death occurred.”

Demonstrations have been generally peaceful all week in Baltimore, and the mayor, surrounded by a coalition of religious leaders, said she hoped the protests this weekend would remain so.

“We have a strong community and a strong tradition of protest. I am encouraged [by] how peaceful the demonstrations have been.” She said she encouraged residents to protest but to do so peacefully.

Several groups have called for a rally and march at City Hall on Saturday.

Gray’s family will hold a wake Sunday and the funeral is scheduled for Monday morning at the New Shiloh Baptist Church.

Officials have confirmed that the autopsy shows that Gray had a massive injury to his spine that led to his death, but details of the autopsy and toxicology reports have not been released.

Officials have said there were no signs of force on the body.

The six officers involved in the arrest and transporting of Gray have been suspended with pay. Five have already been interviewed by police, along with witnesses who saw Gray being put into the van.

Several videos have surfaced showing the original arrest of Gray who was handcuffed from behind. The van made a stop, also caught on video, which showed Gray outside the van, with his legs in irons,  and then being put back into the wagon.

Police have said they expect to finish their investigation by May 1 and will turn the findings over to state prosecutors.

The federal investigation is looking into possible civil rights violations in the death.

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