At The Baltimore Sun, which has been doing a phenomenal job of covering the unrest in Baltimore, Doug Donovan and Mark Puente report on "rough rides"—-and what is documented of the Baltimore Police Department's history of physical abuse against people in police custody.
Some of the people who were injured by police in Baltimore were hurt when they were taken on a "rough ride" in a police vehicle. The term refers to an "unsanctioned technique" in which police vans are driven to cause "injury or pain" to unbuckled, handcuffed detainees, according to former city police officer Charles J. Key. He testified about the practice in a lawsuit over one such detainee's death.
Christine Abbott, a 27-year-old assistant librarian at the Johns Hopkins University, is suing city officers in federal court, alleging that she got such a ride in 2012. According to the suit, officers cuffed Abbott's hands behind her back, threw her into a police van, left her unbuckled and "maniacally drove" her to the Northern District police station, "tossing [her] around the interior of the police van."
"They were braking really short so that I would slam against the wall, and they were taking really wide, fast turns," Abbott said in an interview that mirrored allegations in her lawsuit. "I couldn't brace myself. I was terrified."
The lawsuit states she suffered unspecified injuries from the arrest and the ride.
"You feel like a piece of cargo," she added. "You don't feel human."
The van's driver stated in a deposition that Abbott was not buckled into her seat belt, but the officers have denied driving recklessly.
Police officials have not directly linked Gray's van ride to his injuries but did say that he was not buckled in, as required by department policy. Medical experts say Gray could have injured his spine when he was arrested and that injury could have worsened in the van through even an inadvertent bump, turn or stop.
"Freddie Gray not the first to come out of Baltimore police van with serious injuries" [The Baltimore Sun]