BALTIMORE (AP) - A Baltimore police lieutenant was suspended and two officers were placed on administrative leave after a prisoner they’d recently arrested collapsed in a police station cell from what authorities say was a “medical emergency,” officials said Monday.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said the incident occurred Sunday morning, after officers arrested a 52-year-old woman who had a warrant from Calvert County for failing to appear in court and took her to a police station.
Davis said the officers first took the woman home briefly before bringing her to the station, but a spokesman said she was supervised during that stop. Davis said the woman was alone in the van and in her cell. The stop is part of an investigation into the incident, Davis said, that is being handled by the Special Investigations Response Team.
Davis said he is “confident” that no force was used during her arrest and transport, but that because he still has unanswered questions about what happened, he determined it would be in the best interest of the community and the department to suspend the lieutenant.
“I have questions that need to be answered about the scenario,” Davis said. “Until those questions are answered and until I’m satisfied with those answers, I think it’s in the best interest of the community and the police department to suspend the lieutenant’s police powers and place the two other officers involved on administrative leave.”
The officers were familiar with the woman, Davis said, and called her by her first name. The interaction was cordial, he said, and she went with the officers voluntarily.
On Monday Davis did not offer any details about the nature of her medical emergency, but said she didn’t indicate to officers that she was sick, or ask to go to a hospital throughout their interactions with her.
“I’m satisfied that there was no use of force whatsoever,” Davis said. “The only mystery is what pre-existing medical condition or what other issues occurred that would cause this detainee to suffer this crisis that now has her hospitalized.”
The incident comes just three days before the two-year anniversary of the neck injury 25-year-old Freddie Gray suffered while in the back of a police transport wagon, handcuffed and shackled but unrestrained by a seat belt. Gray died a week later, and his death prompted protests and rioting that led to a yearlong Justice Department investigation into allegations of widespread police abuse. In January, the city and the Justice Department announced an agreement to reform the troubled police department, and a judge approved it Friday.
“We’ve come such a long way with our internal review process, we’ve come such a long way in terms of technology, whether it’s body-worn cameras or cameras inside the vans, and we’ve come such a long way in knowing we have to be upfront when these incidents occur,” Davis said Monday.
The officers who arrested the woman, whose identity has not yet been released, were wearing body cameras, and the transport wagon was equipped with a camera that recorded the woman’s ride to the police station, Davis said.
Deputy Police Commissioner Jason Johnson said whatever emergency the woman experienced, it was not the result of any kind of injury.
“There was absolutely no force used,” he said. “There was no confrontation whatsoever.”
Johnson said the department has been in contact with family members to try and gauge whether her emergency was due to a known medical condition.
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