The Department of Justice said Tuesday that it has opened an investigation into the death of a black Baltimore resident who died over the weekend from injuries he suffered while in police custody.
A spokesman for the DOJ told CNN’s Evan Perez that the agency is investigating whether the civil rights of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died Sunday after suffering spinal cord injuries, were violated during a struggle on April 12. The incident began when Gray ran from police, and court documents allege that officers discovered a switchblade in his pocket.
An attorney for Gray’s family, however, said he was carrying a “pocket knife of legal size” and that police didn’t see the knife before the altercation.
Earlier Tuesday, the Baltimore Police Department released the names of six police officers who were suspended with pay after Gray’s arrest. Baltimore Police Captain Eric Kowalczky told Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” Tuesday that the city wants to get to the bottom of what happened.
“We welcome outside review,” Kowalczky said. “We want to be open, we want to be transparent. We owe it to the city and we owe it to the Gray family to find out exactly what happened.”
Kowalczky added that the department hopes to have an investigation of the incident finished by May 1. He would not comment on the Justice Department’s probe.
Gray’s death comes as police departments across the nation are under increased scrutiny over their treatment of minority citizens.
Last month, the DOJ released an in-depth report into the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson last summer. The report found widespread civil rights abuses by authorities, including systematic racial discrimination in the Missouri city’s police department and municipal court.
The Justice Department also has been working with the FBI and local law enforcement officials in North Charleston, South Carolina to investigate the shooting death of Walter Scott on April 4.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told “The Lead” host Jake Tapper Tuesday that the public should remain patient in their search for the truth surrounding Gray’s death.
“What you’re not getting is answers, because an investigation is going on,” she said.