In Maryland, politicians are mulling over whether to outlaw the police “rough rides” that resulted in Freddie Gray’s death in a new bill. The proposed legislation would require that all passengers are belted in while shuttled around in a police custody van, according to The Baltimore Sun.
In April 2015, Gray was killed after receiving a rough ride while handcuffed in the back of a Baltimore police van. Prosecutors of William Porter, one of the officers charged with his death, argued recently that Gray would be alive today if cops had simply buckled him in. Porter was the first of the six officers facing charges in Gray’s death to go to trial, he received a mistrial in December and a new trial is slated for June.
The new bill, sponsored by Sen. Joan Carter Conway, would also fine officers $10,000 if they “seriously injured or kill” a prisoner who isn’t buckled in. (Seems cheap for a human life!) The Maryland State Fraternal Order of Police president Vince Canales stated that he understands the need for belting detainees—because doing the opposite “goes against common sense”—but he doesn’t want officers fined $10,000 for injuries that detainees suffer while in custody.
“It’s almost guilt before innocence,” Canales said. “You’re not able to defend yourself.”
Or, cops could just use the seatbelt and not have to worry about the penalty, though some say they are worried that a person in custody could go for an officer’s gun while they’re clicking in their seatbelt.
As of last week, Baltimore legislators voted to equip the city’s 23 police transport vans with a recording system, and another bill has been proposed to add video and audio recording to every police vehicle across the state. There’s also the small matter that most transport vans in Maryland jurisdictions don’t have seatbelts at all.
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Image via AP.