Justice Department opens investigation into Baltimore death

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(CNN)The Department of Justice said Tuesday that it has opened an investigation into the death of a black Baltimore resident who died over the weekend from injuries he suffered while in police custody.

A spokesman for the DOJ told CNN's Evan Perez that the agency is investigating whether the civil rights of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died Sunday, were violated during a struggle on April 12. The incident began when Gray ran from police, and court documents allege that officers discovered a switchblade in his pocket.
But William Murphy, an attorney for Gray's family, has said he was carrying a "pocket knife of legal size" and that police didn't see the knife before the altercation.
Police, citing the ongoing investigation, have not released the reasons why Gray was stopped. Murphy has said police thought Gray may have been involved in a crime.
    An autopsy found that Gray died from a severe spinal cord injury, but Baltimore Deputy Police Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez told reporters Monday that there is no indication of how the injury occurred.
    Earlier Tuesday, the Baltimore Police Department released the names of six police officers who were suspended with pay after Gray's arrest. Baltimore Police Captain Eric Kowalczky told Wolf Blitzer on "The Situation Room" Tuesday that the city wants to get to the bottom of what happened.
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    "We welcome outside review," Kowalczky said. "We want to be open, we want to be transparent. We owe it to the city and we owe it to the Gray family to find out exactly what happened."
    Kowalczky added that the department hopes to have an investigation of the incident finished by May 1. He would not comment on the Justice Department's probe.
    Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake told "The Lead" host Jake Tapper earlier Tuesday that the public should remain patient in their search for the truth surrounding Gray's death. But she said she was frustrated and had many questions about the incident.
    "What you're not getting is answers, because an investigation is going on," she said.
    Outrage was apparent at protests in Baltimore Monday. Outside a Baltimore Police Department precinct, demonstrators co-opted slogans from other high-profile police shootings. They chanted, "Hands up! Don't shoot!" and "I can't breathe!" and carried signs saying, "No justice, no peace!" and "Black lives matter."
    Gray's death comes as police departments across the nation are under increased scrutiny over their treatment of minority citizens and the deaths of black men at the hands of police officers.
    Last month, the DOJ released an in-depth report into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson last summer. The report found widespread civil rights abuses by authorities, including systematic racial discrimination in the Missouri city's police department and municipal court.
    The Justice Department also has been working with the FBI and local law enforcement officials in North Charleston, South Carolina to investigate the shooting death of Walter Scott earlier this month.
    CNN's Eliott C. McLaughlin, Suzanne Malveaux, Shawn Nottingham, AnneClaire Stapleton, Julian Cummings, Chris Cuomo, Ben Brumfield and Dana Ford contributed to this report.
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