As most people know by now, Freddie Gray was a resident of Baltimore who died from spinal injuries sustained in the back of a police vehicle. His death led to mass riots in West Baltimore and police officers involved in Freddie Gray’s arrest are currently on trial on various charges related to the man’s death.
Soon after Gray’s death, Facebook was abuzz with claims that Freddie Gray had spinal surgery prior to his arrest. The story appeared on the Facebook page of Baltimore-based Fox affiliate WBFF, the Conservative Treehouse blog, and the Fourth Estate blog. If true, this would have important implications for the police officers involved in the arrest. Specifically, if Freddie Gray had recent spinal surgery that would potentially make his spine vulnerable to injury, and make the police less culpable for the man’s death.
The website Snopes.com thoroughly investigated the claim that Freddie Gray had a car accident and underwent spinal surgery prior to his arrest and death. In short, they determined that this claim was false.
The Facebook story was largely based on insurance records and unnamed sources. The researchers at snopes.com determined that the insurance records cited by these sources actually pertained to a different Freddie Gray Jr. There are 44 instances of Freddie Gray Jr in the Maryland County database and the settlement cited as proof was linked to a person much older than the Freddie Gray who died in police custody. The Freddie Gray in the Baltimore police case would have been five years old at the time the cited Freddie Gray filed for divorce.
Regardless of the outcome of the trials, there is no record or true account that the Freddie Gray Jr. in question had spinal surgery prior to the incident in April 2015.