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Baltimore police turn over Freddie Gray investigation to state

Baltimore police commissioner says probe is not over and 'if new evidence is found, we will follow it'

Baltimore Police Department Commissioner Anthony Batts announced Thursday that the results of the department's investigation into the death of Freddie Gray — who died after he was critically injured in police custody  — have been turned over to a state prosecutor. 

Batts told reporters that during the course of the investigation, 30 detectives were dedicated to focus on the case as their “full-time job.”

The commissioner stressed that the investigation is still not over and that “if new evidence is found, we will follow it,” going on to say that Gray's family and the community “deserve transparency and truth.” 

“I understand the frustration and the sense of urgency,” Batts said. 

Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said at the same press conference that officials had discovered, as part of their investigation, that the police van carrying Gray had made a second stop, which was found on a privately owned security camera. Officials had previously said that the van transporting Gray had made at least one stop. He did not elaborate further.

On Thursday evening, A rally of about 1,000 people in Philadelphia briefly turned tense as protesters tried to march onto a highway and were blocked by police, who reported making three or four arrests, then releasing two of the people, according to the Philidelphia Inquirer. A crowd of about 300 people gathered in Cincinnati, according to Cincinnati. com. And in Milwaukee, a small group marched to mark the one-year anniversay of the death of Dontre Hamilton, shot 14 times by police after a struggle in a downtown park. 

The night before hundreds of people rallied and marched overnight in cities across the U.S. including Boston and New York — where more than 100 people were arrested — as outrage spread over the death of Gray.

Back in Baltimore the night was relatively calm after initial violence earlier this week, though police said 18 more people were arrested during peaceful protests Wednesday. 

Solidarity protests were also held in Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis and Washington. 

Also on Thursday, Baltimore officials were also trying to tamp down expectations and rumors that a final decision on what will happen to the six Baltimore police officers in the Gray case — who remain suspended with pay — would come by Friday.  

The New York City Police Department confirmed that more than 100 arrests were made in New York on Wednesday night. The arrests came after police used a loudspeaker to warn demonstrators they would be taken into custody if they marched in the street. The NYPD said most of the arrests were for disorderly conduct.

Click for more coverage of the Freddie Gray case

Protesters first rallied in Manhattan's Union Square, where they chanted “No justice, no peace!" and “Hands up, don't shoot!” — a reference to the police killing of unarmed teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last year. Then a group of protesters spilled into the street, disrupting traffic. Dozens of police officers moved in with plastic handcuffs and began making arrests, while officers with batons pushed the crowd back onto the sidewalk.

In Boston, activists gathered in a park behind police headquarters in the city's Roxbury neighborhood and continued with a peaceful march to a park at Dudley Square, across from the Roxbury police station.

Nikea Ramsey, whose brother, Burrell Ramsey-White, was shot and killed in an encounter with Boston police in 2012, said, “Me and my family, we stand with Baltimore. We stand with Ferguson. This is too much and it's getting out of hand.” 

Organizers of the Boston demonstration said they want “amnesty” for the protesters and people arrested for rioting in Baltimore, as well as a lifting of the city curfew and of a state of emergency declaration.

In Philadelphia, protesters plan to conduct a demonstration dubbed “Philly is Baltimore” on Thursday afternoon at City Hall. Organizers have drawn parallels between the death of a local man shot during a traffic stop and the April 19 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Philadelphia's district attorney is not pressing charges in the December shooting death of Brandon Tate-Brown in Philadelphia, saying evidence indicates that he was reaching into his car for a loaded pistol. A lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges that officers planted the gun.

Arrests in Baltimore

Earlier, Commissioner Batts said 16 more adults and two children were arrested during peaceful protests on Wednesday, bringing the total number of arrests since Monday's riots to more than 250. On Wednesday, 101 of those arrested were released because officials were unable to charge them. The department is required by law to release people from custody if they were not charged within 48 hours.

However, Batts said  the department is “not giving up” on the dozens who were released, and will conduct follow-up investigations and charge people appropriately.

Baltimore police say they chased Gray when he fled at the sight of an officer in a drug-infested neighborhood this month. Officers pinned him to the sidewalk and then lifted him and took him, his legs dragging on the ground, to a police van.

Gray, who asked repeatedly for medical help during the half-hour ride to a police station, died a week later. Police have said Gray died of a “significant spinal injury.” An attorney for Gray's family says his spine was “80 percent severed in the neck area.”

Justice at the ‘right time’

Also on Thursday, Baltimore officials were attempting to manage growing expectations that they will immediately decide whether to prosecute the six police officers involved in Gray's arrest and death. 

In an effort to be transparent, authorities told the community they planned to turn over the findings of a police investigation into Gray's death to a state's attorney by Friday.

Prosecutors will review the information and eventually decide how to move forward, authorities have said.

But protesters on the streets and high school students who met with Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Wednesday have said there are rumors circulating that some kind of “verdict” will be rendered as soon as Friday.

“It became very clear ... that people misunderstood,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Both Rawlings-Blake and Batts spent much of the day Wednesday trying to explain that no final resolution to the case would come Friday. Hassan Murphy, a lawyer for Gray's family, underscored their comments, saying, “This family wants justice and they want justice that comes at the right time and not too soon.”

Al Jazeera and wire services

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