In one of the most wired cities in America, closed-circuit tv cameras captured Freddie Gray’s arrest and the police transport van’s drive from the Gilmor Homes housing project to the Western District station.
But there are gaps in the footage that has been released publicly. Eighteen cameras are listed as evidence by Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, but police have released 16 to the public. Investigators obtained footage from other cameras along the van’s route south of Gilmor, but those were never released to the public, nor are they listed as evidence.
Some of the footage that has been released doesn’t include critical time periods, and one camera periodically freezes. Three cameras in the area weren’t working April 12, 2015, the day of Gray’s arrest.
Footage from the CitiWatch cameras as well as citizen cellphone videos are expected to be key evidence in the trials of six police officers charged in Gray’s arrest and death. The trial of Officer Edward Nero, who is charged with second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment, began last week. All the officers have pleaded not guilty.
Tod Burke, a former Maryland police officer who is now a criminal justice professor at Radford University, said police may have released only some of the video because investigators are trying to balance the need to respond to the public with the need to protect information that could affect witness interrogations, privacy or due process of the accused officers.
Some of the footage before Gray’s initial encounter with police was played at Officer William Porter’s trial, which ended with a deadlocked jury and mistrial. It hasn’t been released publicly.
But forensic video expert Ed Primeau, who has analyzed closed-circuit tv (CCTV) in several criminal cases, said the poor quality of the video released by police raises questions about its reliability.
“It’s important to be consistent, and if not, that such irregularities be explained,” he said.
Sierria Warren, a Gilmor resident who witnessed much of the police van’s stop at Mount and Baker streets, where officers pulled Gray out and put him in shackles, said glitches and gaps in CitiWatch video raise questions about police efforts to be transparent. Warren’s statement is listed as evidence in the cases against the officers.
“These CCTV cameras — they work, but they work for police,” she said.
Police used CCTV cameras in 633 arrests in 2015, including nine in Gilmor Homes, according to public records obtained by The Baltimore Sun.
Among the issues with CCTV cameras, the Sun found through public records requests and interviews:
Three cameras in the area of Gray’s pursuit and arrest were inoperative because of a power issue reported to the city a month before, according to a report from the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology, which is responsible for maintaining the cameras.
Footage from two cameras in the area where Gray was initially confronted by officers on North Avenue and Mount Street only covers the time after 9 a.m., even though the initial encounter with police was at 8:39 a.m., according to the police report. As a result, the video only shows moments when the van driver Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. returned to the area to pick up another passenger.
Police released only one minute from one of three cameras overseeing Gray’s arrest and detention, which lasted five minutes, according to a police timeline. Police released 30 minutes from a second camera on that corner and 30 minutes from a third. Both of those cameras miss parts of the pursuit and arrest because the cameras, which are on an automatic circular rotation, weren’t trained on the scene at crucial moments.
Two cameras oversaw the Mount and Baker stop. Released footage from one camera at that corner appears to freeze during several automatic rotations. At the time of its release, police reported technical glitches in uploading the video online after a Sun inquiry. Footage from another camera near that corner is missing three of six minutes the van was parked at the corner.
Baltimore police spokesman T.J. Smith noted that the camera footage was released to the public before Mosby filed criminal charges against the police officers. He declined to respond to questions about specific cameras, citing the ongoing criminal trials that are subject to a gag order.
Mosby declined a public records request for all videos related to the case, including those not released to the public, saying it could interfere with the proceedings.
Justin Fenton and Kevin Rector contributed to this article.