A Baltimore autopsy that ruled Freddie Gray’s death a homicide is likely to be a controversial piece of evidence in the criminal case against six police officers who are facing a range of charges, the Baltimore Sun reports. The state medical examiner’s officer concluded that Gray’s death could not be ruled an accident. The homicide ruling was based on the failure of officers to follow safety protocols. The 25-year-old Baltimore man died in April, a week after suffering a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody.
Legal analysts said the autopsy could be used by prosecutors to show that officers took Gray on a “rough ride,” in which prisoners are intentionally jostled in the back of transport vans driven erratically, and failed to take steps to ensure his safety and provide medical assistance. Defense attorneys could argue that the autopsy depicts a series of errors that could be construed as an accident and that the officers aren’t culpable in Gray’s death, analysts said. “I would support a definition of homicide, but I think you would get other medical examiners that would certify this case as an undetermined case or an accident,” said pathology professor Jeffrey Jentzen of the University of Michigan. Jentzen noted that more information is needed to understand the officers’ intentions.