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Baltimore Protesters March as Police End Inquiry Into Man's Death

  • VOA News

Protesters held another large but peaceful march through downtown Baltimore on Thursday as speculation grew about the findings of a police report on the death of Freddie Gray.

The 25-year-old African-American man died April 19 from a severe spinal injury suffered while in police custody. His death sparked rioting and looting in black neighborhoods in Baltimore, as well as protests in other cities.

Other marches occurred Thursday in Cincinnati and Philadelphia, where police stopped the crowd from blocking a major highway. Rallies are planned throughout the rest of the week in Baltimore.

City police completed their investigation into Gray's death Thursday and gave the report to prosecutors, who will decide whether to charge six police officers involved in the man's arrest. But there is no timetable for when that decision will be made about the officers, all of whom have been suspended, with pay, during the probe.

A lawyer for Gray's family, Hassan Murphy, said the family wants prosecutors in the state's attorney's office to take their time to conduct a proper investigation.

In handing the case to prosecutors, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts disclosed little about the police probe.

Police investigators discovered that the van carrying Gray made an additional stop en route to the jail where he was held, one of several it made after Gray's arrest, but gave no details about why the stop was made.

Hundreds arrested

More than 200 demonstrators have been arrested in the Baltimore protests this week, but about half of them have now been freed.

Police say they have been unable to determine in many instances which officers arrested which protesters and for precisely what reasons. Police said those freed could still be charged later after video of the rioting and other evidence is reviewed.

"There was a chaotic situation," a police spokesman said. "We had officers being attacked, officers being injured. These were lawful arrests for acts of violence."

Gray was arrested by police, pinned to the ground and dragged to the back of a van. He was taken to jail without being secured with a seat belt as required. They allegedly ignored his pleas for medical attention.

But it is unclear what happened inside the van. The Washington Post reported that a prisoner in the van with Gray told investigators he could hear Gray "banging against the walls" of the van, and believed that he was "intentionally trying to injure himself."

An attorney for the Gray family said the family disagreed "with any implication that Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord."

'Pressure on the city' for answers

On Wednesday, residents observed the second night of an overnight curfew imposed in response to disturbances earlier in the week. Community leaders, including U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, whose district includes Baltimore, were on hand to encourage protesters to return to their homes before the 10 p.m. curfew took effect.

Hours earlier, more than a thousand demonstrators had marched through downtown Baltimore, from the city's main train station to City Hall.

“We want to put pressure on the city to give us answers, because this could have been us that this happened to — this literally happened 15 minutes away from our campus, 15 minutes from our lives, and we pretend like it didn't," said Korey Johnson, one of the protest’s leaders and a student at nearby Towson University.

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest to support the rallies in Baltimore, in front of the White House in Washington, April 29, 2015.

Demonstrators hold signs during a protest to support the rallies in Baltimore, in front of the White House in Washington, April 29, 2015.

Baltimore's police commissioner described the protest as "extremely peaceful."

But in New York City, police arrested more than 60 people as protesters roved in separate groups through Manhattan, blocking traffic in a few areas.

Smaller, mostly peaceful protests occurred in Boston; Houston; Indianapolis; Ferguson, Missouri; Washington, D.C., and Seattle. A handful of demonstrators were arrested in Denver.

The demonstrations in New York City — from Union Square to Times Square and elsewhere — were reminiscent of similar demonstrations in December after a grand jury decided against charges in the case of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer put him in a chokehold.

Similar protests broke out last year in Ferguson after the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black male who was shot and killed after a confrontation with white police officer Darren Wilson.

WATCH: Related video report by Victoria Macchi

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