Freddie Gray suffered a single “high-energy injury”, most likely caused when the police van into which he had been bundled suddenly braked, it has been reported.
The report said it believed the young man most likely suffered an injury that proved to be fatal after got to his feet and was thrown into the wall during an abrupt change in direction.
Mr Gray was not belted in, but his wrists and ankles were shackled and that made him at “risk for an unsupported fall during acceleration or deceleration of the van”, it said.
The Baltimore Sun newspaper said it had obtained a copy of the post-mortem examination, carried out in the aftermath of the death of the black 25-year-old, who died in April, two weeks after being taken into police custody.
The death of the young man, whose family said they had been told his spine had been severed after he was arrested, sparked outcry and protest, and triggered two days of sporadic rioting in parts of the. Six officers have been charged over his death, one of them with murder.
The state medical examiner’s office concluded that Mr Gray’s death fit the medical and legal definition of an accident, but ruled it to be a homicide because officers failed to follow safety procedures “through acts of omission”, the newspaper reported.
The autopsy report was completed April 30, the day before the Maryland state prosecutor, Marilyn Mosby, announced criminal charges against the officers. The autopsy has not been made public, and the deadline for releasing evidence in the case to defence lawyers is Friday.
There was no immediate response from Mr Gray's family or their lawyer. The Maryland coroner's office also did not respond to questions.
Mr Gray tested positive for opiates and cannabinoid when he was admitted to Maryland Shock Trauma Centre, according to the autopsy. The report makes no further reference to the drugs found in his system, the Sun said.
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