"I'm drained," she said during one afternoon break. She was enduring another day of headaches, and the strain of being the primary felt like a house on her shoulders.
Teel, 31, grew up in Southwest Baltimore and spent most of her career in the Western District, first in patrol, then in a special crime impact unit and finally as a detective. Two months before Gray's death, she transferred to the team that investigates police shootings and other uses of force.
Both Batts and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake pledged to root out rogue cops, and the commissioner created the Force Investigation Team as a key element of that campaign.
Now Teel was handling the most-watched case of alleged brutality the police department had ever faced.
Homicide detectives Corey Alston and Mark Veney, two bow-tie-wearing veterans, backed her up.
Alston viewed the assignment with cool detachment. "My job as an investigator is just to collect evidence for someone else to decide on," he said, referring to prosecutors who would determine whether charges should be pursued.
Veney, who considered investigating to be an art form, also said he felt no pressure in the Gray case. It wasn't personal, just another case where he collected facts. Homicide detectives "ignore the noise," he said.
Teel, though, could not help but feel the pressure from across Baltimore and inside police headquarters.
You got citizens who hate you. You got some officers who hate you.
Syreeta Teel, detective
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"You got citizens who hate you," she said. "You got some officers who hate you."
Teel was a black belt in Okinawa Shorin-Ryu, a form of karate known for its emphasis on circular movements to avoid attacks. That provided her with both discipline and focus. She was also enrolled at the University of Baltimore, studying forensic technology.
She was confident enough to jump out on a dance floor by herself, but she would freeze up if she knew someone was staring. She also worried about how she sounded, stuttering when nervous.
Veney and Alston tried to boost her confidence, repeatedly telling her she had the traits of a strong investigator.
A couple of blocks away, a line of officers guarded the closed streets surrounding police headquarters. A woman near the barriers wore a shirt that listed names such as "Emmett & Amadou & Trayvon," black males whose deaths served as flashpoints for racial tensions around the country. In Gray, protesters saw another example of brutality, and a national debate over policing had shifted from New York City and Ferguson, Mo., to Baltimore.
Task force members continued to comb through records in the conference room. Sgt. Lamar Howard studied the map of the police van's route, muttering street names: "Lafayette, Lafayette." He sported a suit, and his tie hung well above his belt buckle — as he always wore it.
Things were getting tense outside, and officers inside could feel it. Lt. Lloyd Wells, a supervisor in the training division, showed him a cellphone photo of a hooded man with a bandanna covering his face. "Lamar, if these cats are out there, they're here for trouble."
A police radio crackled to life: "Be advised, they're throwing rocks at Camden Yards." Soon another call cut through the conversation: "Looks like there's a fight."
Howard kept his focus on the timeline of Gray's arrest and transport. "Man, I'm trying to put this together," he said.
Wells glanced at a photo of Gray being placed in the van, an image labeled "842 7809 requests wagon to Bruce Ct." The photo, pulled from one of many videos the task force was studying, had received little notice. Wells asked Howard, "Is he standing up there?"
"No way he could stand up if his spine is broken."
"Whatever happened," Howard said, "happened in the van."
The police radio barked with reports of fights at Camden Yards, where the Orioles were playing a night game, and detectives filtered into a nearby office to watch a television tuned to protest coverage.
Brandford, Howard and a half-dozen officers gathered around. "Oh, they're fighting," someone yelled.