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Freddie Gray autopsy rules death a 'homicide' due to police failure

A US autopsy report has found that Freddie Gray suffered a "high-energy injury" while in a Baltimore police van, which lead to his death a week later. Failure of officers to follow procedure made the death a "homicide."

The report, obtained by local newspaper The Baltimore Sun on Tuesdsay, said that the injury, similar to those suffered in shallow-water diving, was most likely caused when the van suddenly decelerated.

Gray was not was not belted in while travelling in the van, but his wrists and ankles were shackled, making him "at risk for an unsupported fall during acceleration or deceleration of the van," the newspaper said, citing the autopsy report.

The state medical examiner's office reportedly concluded that Gray's death fit the medical and legal definition of an accident. It ruled his death to be a homicide, however, as officers failed to follow safety procedures "through acts of omission."

'Police brutality'

Despite having committed no crime, Gray was arrested by police in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of West Baltimore on April 12 and died in a hospital a week later.

According to court documents, the 25-year-old African American made eye contact with a police officer and took off running.

He was apprehended two blocks away and arrested for possession of a knife which Officer Garrett Miller wrote in charging documents was illegal under a city ordinance.

Gray's death triggered protests and rioting after he became a symbol of what demonstrators said was police brutality against black people.

'Depraved-heart' murder

Six police officers have been indicted on various charges in connection with the case, with the van driver, Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., facing the most serious charge of second-degree "depraved-heart" murder.

Three other officers have been charged of manslaughter and two others with lesser charges. All six officers have pleaded not guilty. The trial is due to begin in October.

ksb/bw (Reuters, AP, AFP)