(CNN) — Freddie Gray did not get timely medical care after he was arrested and was not buckled into a seat belt while being transported in a police van, Baltimore police said Friday.
Police Commissioner Anthony Batts told reporters there are no excuses for the fact that Gray was not buckled in as he was transported to a police station.
Five days after Gray’s death and amid ongoing protests, police officials acknowledged mistakes were made during and after his arrest.
Gray, who was stopped April 12 after a foot pursuit through several housing complexes, should have received medical attention at the scene of his arrest, said Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis. A witness said the man was yelling and indicated he was having difficulty breathing.
Batts told reporters in an afternoon news conference: “We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times.”
Investigators are trying to learn more about Gray’s condition at each of the three stops the van made on its way to a police station.
At the first stop, Gray was placed in leg irons. The driver stopped a second time “to deal with Mr. Gray and the facts of that interaction are under investigation,” Davis said. The van stopped one more time to add a second prisoner.
Batts told reporters that at the third stop an officer saw Gray on the floor of the van, asking for a medic. The officer and the van driver picked him up and put him on the seat, the commissioner said.
When the van arrived at the Western District station, police called for an ambulance, said Davis, who is in charge of the investigation.
An attorney for the Gray family said it was positive news, but there is a more important issue.
“It’s certainly a step towards acknowledging the truth that the police did not follow their own internal regulations,” Jason Downs told CNN. “What it does not get at is, it does not get at the core of this case and that is why did Mr. Gray need medical attention in the first place? … That’s the question that still has not been answered.”
The developments came two days after a police union attorney spoke of the possibility that the injuries occurred during a “rough ride,” a frequently claimed practice in which police vehicles are deliberately driven in a way that injures suspects.
At least two suspects have won court cases against the city after being left paralyzed in such rides over the last decade or so, The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday.
Gray died Sunday, one week after Baltimore police arrested him.
At some point, he suffered a severe spinal cord injury. His family said his voice box was crushed and his neck snapped before he slipped into a coma and died.
Batts said he had been given preliminary results of an autopsy on Gray. The medical examiner’s full autopsy may take another 30 to 45 days, Batts said, because toxicology tests still need to be examined and spinal experts may be brought in to assess Gray’s injury.
Meanwhile, anger over the incident and the police response to it continued to grow ahead of a major rally that organizers vowed would “shut this city down on Saturday.”
“The people are demanding immediate arrests, immediate end to the protracted investigation, and immediate end to the stonewalling,” said Malik Shabazz, president of Black Lawyers for Justice.
But he and other officials vowed the protests would be peaceful — much as they were Thursday night, despite a few scuffles and two detentions.
‘They demand answers and so do I’
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake thanked those protesters who have demonstrated peacefully.
“Our community is very clear. They demand answers and so do I,” she said.
The mayor said that will take some time, but she had concerns about what happened to Gray.
“I still want to know why the policies and procedures for transport were not followed,” Rawlings-Blake said. “I realize there is frustration over this investigation, but I want to be clear: there is a process, but we have to respect that process.”
Batts addressed calls for his resignation after Gray’s death by saying he would not step down.