WASHINGTON - The black man who died in custody in Baltimore suffered a "high-energy injury" most likely caused when the police van he was in abruptly decelerated, a media report said Tuesday.
Six officers face criminal charges in the death of Freddie Gray, 25, who succumbed to a serious spinal injury suffered while in the back of a police vehicle in April.
It sparked days of sometimes violent protests in Baltimore - which is just an hour's drive north of the US capital - and in other major US cities, the latest black death at the hands of police in the United States.
According to The Baltimore Sun, which obtained a copy of the autopsy report, the state medical examiner's office concluded that Gray's death could not be ruled an accident, and was instead a homicide, because officers failed to follow safety procedures "through acts of omission." The newspaper likened it to the kind of injury sustained in shallow-water diving accidents.
It said that although Gray was loaded into the van on his stomach, the medical examiner surmised that he may have climbed to his feet and was thrown into the wall of the vehicle during a sudden change of direction.
He was not belted in, but his wrists and ankles were shackled, the report said, making him "at risk for an unsupported fall during acceleration or deceleration of the van."