Originally published May 22 2015
Essential vocabulary for surviving the police state: 'Nickel Rides'
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Was the late Freddie Gray, the Baltimore man whose death in police custody recently led to days of riots in the city, a victim of a police tactic aimed at exacting punishment on suspects without officers ever laying a hand on them?
As new evidence surrounding Gray's case becomes public, it appears as though he might have been given a "nickel ride," a term used to describe a police torture tactic where suspects are placed in the back of a police car without restraints and then driven around recklessly. Some call them "cowboy rides" or "rough rides."
The Baltimore Sun stated that when State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby charged six city police officers with Gray's death, she noted that they drove him around for about 45 minutes while ignoring his pleas for medical attention.
History of violenceFurther, the paper said:
Records obtained by The Baltimore Sun show that city police often disregard or are oblivious to injuries and illnesses among people they apprehend - in fact, such cases occur by the thousands.
The paper said between June 2012 and April 2015, correctional officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center would not admit some 2,600 suspects in police custody, citing state records that were obtained through freedom of information requests.
The records show that intake officers in Central Booking recorded a variety of injuries that included bone fractures, facial trauma and high blood pressure. Among those denied entry, 123 had visible head injuries, the third-most common medical condition cited by jail officers, the records indicate.
The names of detainees were redacted in the jail records, but an investigator for the paper found similar recollections among Baltimore residents and others who have lodged brutality allegations against police.
One man who was awarded $170,000 by a jury in 2011, Salahudeen Abdul-Aziz, testified that he was beaten by police and left with a broken nose, facial fracture and other injuries before being transported to the Western District. Some hours later, he was transferred to Central Booking, where he was sent to Bon Secours Hospital, court records show.
As noted by The Free Thought Project web site, Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts acknowledged that Gray should have been properly restrained for transport.
"We know he was not buckled in the transportation wagon, as he should have been. No excuses for that, period," he said. "We know our police employees failed to get him medical attention in a timely manner multiple times."
Not just confined to one cityAs NBC News notes:
[Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin] Davis said the police van stopped three times before arriving at the station. It stopped first so police could place "leg irons" on Gray, and stopped a second time "to deal with Mr. Gray, and the facts of that interaction are under investigation," Davis said.
The van stopped a third time to pick up a second prisoner and went on to the Western District police station, where an ambulance was called, Davis said. "At no point was he wearing a seat belt," while in the police van, Davis said. Police policy requires all prisoners to wear seat belts during transport.
While the seat belt rule is relatively new, nickel rides are not, and Baltimore is not the only city where they occur.
In 2014, they become notorious in Philadelphia following a court case in which it was found that police there used the tactic as a way to punish uncooperative, unruly or arrogant suspects out of sight of any potential witnesses without ever actually touching them.
"The practice was exposed through the lawsuit of a man named James McKenna, who was awarded $490,000 after he was able to prove in court that he was intentionally injured during his ride in a police van," reported The Free Thought Project.
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