Rawlings-Blake reaffirms 'independent eyes' to investigate Freddie Gray death

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Monday she's continuing to seek answers in the death of Freddie Gray, who was critically injured after being arrested by Baltimore police.

During an appearance on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," she said she's ordered the Police Department to work in conjunction with the State's Attorney's Office on the investigation, saying "we have already indicated that we will also have independent eyes take a look at this."


"I am very determined to get to the bottom of this incident and to hold those who need to be held accountable, accountable," Rawlings-Blake said.

Rawlings-Blake said she also asked the U.S. Department of Justice to partner with the city. In the matter of Gray's death: "We can't just depend on – as the attorney for Mr. Gray says, you know  –  the police looking at the police.  And we don't depend on that."

Rawlings-Blake said she hasn't yet spoken to Gray's family directly, although she said members of her administration have been working to set up a meeting with the family.

The mayor was asked whether the police officers involved may have put Gray in a chokehold or took any action that led to the severed spine that the man's family lawyer said he suffered.

"I have not heard any of those details," Rawlings-Blake said. "And that's why I said we are still until the investigation stage. But nothing like you've mentioned has been mentioned."

Rawlings-Blake said she believes it's important not to speculate on the details of the encounter.

"We're focused on making sure that we get the information," she said. "And I'm really working hard to overcome this very challenged history that we have in Baltimore where the trust issues between the community and the police."

The mayor said she has to weigh her obligation to be transparent about the details while not jeopardizing the investigation.

"I don't want to be in a position where we have officers, because of information that is prematurely put out to the public, they have a chance to then fix their account to what they've seen in the public," she said on the show. "We have to protect ... this investigation so we can hold those who need to be held accountable, accountable."

On another matter, Rawlings-Blake was asked about the issue of equipping city police with body cameras. She said the city is preparing to solicit vendors to provide the cameras and reaffirmed her commitment to get a pilot program in place this year.

When pressed on the time she's taken to implement a body camera program, Rawlings-Blake said, "we could rush, but then we could also be wasteful. Again, we've seen in other jurisdictions where there's been a rush to implementation and it has cost the taxpayers dearly. My commitment is to get this right, and that's what we're doing."

A spokesman for Rawlings-Blake said she misspoke on the show when she initially said that the city expects to "implement a pilot program this week." Kevin Harris said the city is working to launch a pilot program later this year for police to test out different equipment.