Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Jarrel Gray, 20, Becomes Latest Young African-American Man to Die at the Hands of Police

Another young man of color fell victim to aggressive police tactics in an autumn that has seen an unsettling series of escalating physical confrontations with fatal results.

Jarrel Gray was allegedly confronted by Frederick County Deputies after he was involved in a fight after a party early on the morning of Sunday, November 18th.

According to a report on the WBAL Website the victim's mother claims her son was deaf in one ear and might possibly have not heard the officer's commands. After an altercation with police, Gray was tasered and later died.

One of the most detailed accounts of the incident seems to come from The Register, a Canadian Website which carried the story.


Melissa said...

Police report reveals details of Taser death
Originally published June 14, 2008

By Sarah Fortney
News-Post Staff

Police report reveals details of Taser death

Photo by Courtesy Photo


City Cab

A criminal investigation report into the death of a 20-year-old man reveals details of the morning Jarrel Gray died within hours of receiving two shocks from a Frederick County Sheriff's Office deputy's Taser.

The sheriff's office requested the Frederick Police Department conduct the investigation, which closed May 14. The Frederick News-Post obtained the report Thursday.

On Nov. 18, 2007, sheriff's office Cpl. Rudy Torres responded to a fight in progress about 5 a.m. on Gresham Court East, near Crestwood Boulevard.

Torres demanded several times that Gray and two other men ----Gray's cousin Jerame Duvall and Charles Kahiga -- lie on the ground or Torres would use his Taser.

When Gray did not comply, Torres struck Gray in the chest with the Taser.

"Gray's hands dislodged from his pants as he fell, but he landed face-down with his hands still out of sight beneath him," the report states. "After Tasing Gray, Torres called on his radio for additional units, EMS, and another supervisor for the use of force."

Torres then moved toward Gray, ordering him again to show his hands or he would shock him again with the Taser. When Gray did not show his hands, Torres shocked him again.

Torres said he could see Gray react to the second shock.

" É Gray still remained noncompliant and while Torres continued to issue verbal commands to Gray, the other two males yelled to Torres that Gray was too drunk to comply," the report states.

Gray's blood alcohol content was .18, above the legal limit for a DWI charge, according to an autopsy report.

Duvall and Kahiga told Torres the fight started because they were trying to get Gray "either into or out of the car," the report states.

When additional deputies arrived, Torres told them to handcuff Duvall and Kahiga. Torres then told deputies to pull Gray's hands from underneath his body to handcuff him, the report states.

Soon after, Torres said, he turned Gray onto his side and noticed Gray moved into a "semi-fetal position," the report states.

"At that time Gray moved his head and coughed a few times," the report states. "EMS arrived after a short time and Torres directed them to check Gray since he had been Tased."

During an interview with Torres on Dec. 11, he said he did not recognize Gray the morning of the fight, despite having previous contact with him.

Torres said Gray, who is deaf in his right ear and hard of hearing in the other, seemed to have heard verbal commands clearly because he responded defiantly, cursing repeatedly, the report states.

Contrary to Torres' statements, Gray was not wearing his hearing aid and might not have heard the commands, the report states.

Detectives also interviewed Duvall and Kahiga within hours of Gray's death, according to the report. Duvall said he recalled two police officers ran to the group with guns and Tasers.

"I didn't think it was gonna happen like that. I thought they were gonna come up to us and talk to us. No guns in our faces or Tasers like that," he said. "It just went the wrong way."

When asked to elaborate, he said, he believes police called to a noise complaint or fight should "just come to you and talk to you, and not pull guns out in your face."

Duvall also said Torres struck Gray about 10 to 15 seconds after he had arrived and got out of his police car, the report states.

Detective: Why didn't Jarrel get on the ground?

Duvall: That's Jarrel.

Detective: What do you mean?

Duvall: He has his ways, the way he acts he is different, stubborn, knows his rights É deaf in one ear É

Detective: After being tased, did Jarrel say anything?

Duvall: Jarrel said "ah" and he was moaning. The police then handcuffed everybody including Jarrel É Ambulance came in five minutes, it was quick É

Detective: Why did they tase him?

Duvall: Maybe the officer felt, I don't know, they just tased him.

Detective: Why didn't they tase you?

Duvall: Because I was on the ground.

Duvall also said deputies did not perform CPR on Gray after he had been struck twice with the Taser, the report states.

Sarah Ismach, who was driving the group home from a party, said Gray had been drinking and might not have been compliant for that reason, the report states.

"It seemed like it was pre-destined like they were going to Taser somebody. Hey, it's a Saturday night, let's Taser somebody," Ismach said.

Responding to the report, Ted Williams, the attorney and spokesman for Gray's family, said the witnesses' statements contradict what Torres claimed happened that night.

Gray was not doing anything threatening, Williams said. Gray had not been using drugs, as confirmed by Gray's autopsy.

The family has filed a $145 million lawsuit against Torres, Sheriff Chuck Jenkins and the county.

CG said...

Hi Melissa,

Thanks a lot for sharing the follow-up details from the police report.

I think people have a duty to comply with the commands of police officers but too often I've seen cases where police officers literally walk into a scene or situation where their lives are not in jeopardy and minutes later a minority suspect is dead after some kind of physical altercation.

I recall the tragic incident in New York in 2004 where a black teenager walking out of the roof-top door on his project building to cross over and go down to a party in an adjoining building (he'd run back to get a CD) was shot point blank by an NYPD police officer who'd been patrolling the roof and was startled when the teen opened the door.

At some point society is going to have to start looking deeper into what's happening in the minds of police officers when they confront minority suspects Jarrel Gray did NOT have to be tasered and there's no way he should've died.

If his blood alcohol count is any indication, it seems as if he'd way to drunk to be a danger to anyone but himself.

I appreciate you sharing that.

- Culturegeist