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Citizen video shows tension between police, residents near Freddie Gray arrest site

A cellphone video shows the April 21 arrest of a man for jaywalking by Baltimore City police officers near the site Freddie Gray was arrested on April 12. (Used with permission of Keontye Little)

A citizen video shows tensions in the West Baltimore neighborhood that has been rocked by the death of Freddie Gray as officers say on tape they are stopping a man for jaywalking.

Witnesses jeer as two police officers, eventually joined by others, handcuff the black man, put him in the back of a police cruiser and drive away. The officers twice say his infraction was jaywalking.

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"You stopped him 'cause he's black," one man shouts off-camera. "Y'all trying to kill him."

"They doing what they did to Freddie," shouts another.

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Fox Baltimore was on the scene Tuesday as officers responded, and later interviewed a man who identified himself as Kavon Starkes and said he was the man who was arrested. He said he was released with a citation for jaywalking.

Capt. Eric Kowalczyk, a police spokesman, said he didn't have more information about the incident and couldn't provide more details on the arrest.

Keontye Little, who lives in the neighborhood, told The Baltimore Sun that she began recording the confrontation on a sidewalk near Gilmor Homes because she couldn't believe what she was seeing.

Tensions between police and neighborhood residents are high following the death of the 25-year-old Gray on Sunday after he suffered grave injuries while in police custody.

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"I felt like it was ridiculous to stop someone for jaywalking, in the situation this town is in," Little says. "We were just making sure they didn't do nothing else to anyone in that neighborhood."

Gray's death is being investigated by city police and prosecutors, and the U.S. Justice Department announced an independent investigation. Unanswered questions include not only how he died in police custody, but whether officers had probable cause to arrest him.

Police have said Gray ran when he saw police on patrol in the neighborhood on April 12, and officers gave chase. Once they caught him, police say, they found he had a switchblade knife and placed him under arrest.

After being transported in a police van, he was found unresponsive and in critical condition. Police are focusing on what happened in the van as a possible explanation for his injuries.

In Little's video, the officers have already stopped the man when the recording starts.

Little posted the video on her Facebook page to share with friends. It depicts a man on a sidewalk near Gilmor homes asking police why they have stopped him.

"Sir, you were jaywalking," one officer says.

"Jaywalking? Come on yo," he responds.

Off-camera, onlookers can be heard yelling, "No Justice, No Peace" and criticizing the officers.

As the man tries to walk away, an officer continues to step in front of him.

The officers call for backup. One who arrives films the crowd with his cellphone.

"Just get your citation, because that's all they can give you," Little can be heard saying. "Jaywalking! This is ridiculous."

"He's crossing the street, without using a crosswalk," one officer explains to another.

"I don't feel safe, y'all murderers," Starkes says.

The officer filming with his cellphone removes his Taser, but does not use it. The arrested man is put into the back of the cruiser and driven away.

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