By Oliver Laughland
Freddie Gray had no seatbelt on in the police van where he was placed in handcuffs and later put in leg irons, police said as they confirmed the possible breach of protocol forms part of their investigation into his death.
Protesters have marched in West Baltimore for the fifth night in a row following the death in custody of 25-year-old Gray. Despite two arrests, tensions seemed to have eased on Thursday night compared with the previous demonstrations.
Six officers involved in the incident have been suspended. On Thursday an attorney working for the officers said he did not believe Gray had been wearing a seatbelt when he was placed in the van.
Baltimore police confirmed on Thursday it was policy to provide proper seatbelts during the transport of prisoners but declined to release photographs from inside the van carrying Gray.
Gray was not belted in, said attorney Michael Davey, who represents at least one of the officers under investigation. But he took issue with the rules. “Policy is policy, practice is something else,” particularly if a prisoner was combative, Davey told the Associated Press. “It is not always possible or safe for officers to enter the rear of those transport vans that are very small, and this one was very small.”