Just Who Was the Man in Freddie Gray's Van?
On Wednesday, April 29, Peter Hermann of the Washington Post published a well-sourced article, headlined, "Prisoner in van said Freddie Gray 'was intentionally trying to injure himself.'"
Hermann based this story on an affidavit contained in an application for a search warrant that had been sealed by the court. According to the document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, the unnamed prisoner, a 38-year-old man accused of violating a protective order, could hear Gray from his side of the van. The man heard "banging against the walls" of the vehicle and believed that Gray "was intentionally trying to injure himself."
The Post received the document under the condition that the person testifying not be named. As Hermann reported, "[t]he person who provided it feared for the inmate's safety." That fear was understandable. Many people have a vested interest in preserving the illusion of Gray's martyrdom at the hands of a cruel and/or callous police department. If anything, the fact that the man in question was currently in prison increased the risk factor.
Under pressure from Politico and other sources, the Hermann article changed in the days to come, but in a perplexing way. Now, a Google search for the headline "Prisoner in van said Freddie Gray 'was intentionally trying to injure himself" leads to a Hermann article headlined "Prisoner in van heard 'banging against walls.'"
The implication is that these two articles are the same with one minor "correction" – namely, that the prisoner was not the anonymous 38-year-old, but rather "22-year-old Donta Allen."
Allen first emerged on Thursday, April 30 and contradicted the Post's reporting. When interviewed over the phone, Allen reportedly told the Post that the police report got it wrong, because he "never ever said to police that [Gray] was hurting himself." Yet, curiously, this second Post article repeated the assertion that the second van rider, now identified as Allen, believed that Gray "was intentionally trying to injure himself."
I called and e-mailed Hermann seeking a clarification but have not heard back. Politico posed the same question and got this response from a Post spokesperson, "We accurately quoted from [the police] report, which was a search warrant affidavit written by a police investigator." Dylan Byers of Politico, among others, has scolded the Post for "erroneously" reporting that Gray was trying to injure himself and for then, more or less, sticking to the story.
Neither Politico nor the Post, however, provides any substantiation of Allen's story beyond what Allen told them and what he first told WBAL-TV and later told WJZV-TV. On camera, Allen was borderline hysterical. He was trying to establish that he was not a snitch and also that the police purposefully hurt Gray.
Allen told WBAL-TV that he heard the police say of Gray, "We gave him a run for his money." Some have interpreted this to mean that the police gave Gray a rough ride to bang him up, but Allen described his own stretch of the ride, also unbelted, as "smooth." He did say of the police, however, "Y'all beat that man before y'all brought him inside the van." Allen had no way of knowing this, and we have no reason to believe that his claim is true.
Allen did not see Gray during the ride or afterwards. He did, however, claim to know Gray and to have seen him the day before he was arrested. Unlike the man identified in the affidavit, Allen did not go to prison. Allen also claimed he did not talk to the police, although he did say he spoke to "homicide," whatever that means.
Allen, in fact, was not arrested on April 12, the day Gray was arrested. However, a 38-year-old man was arrested that day, and he was arrested on the charges specified in the original Post article, violating a protective order. The Conservative Treehouse, which has done the best reporting on Gray's death, as it did on the deaths of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, has tentatively identified this man and his arresting officer and shared that information with me. For the man's safety, I will withhold the name.
The Treehouse has also reported that Janice Bledsoe, the deputy state's attorney Marilyn Mosby appointed to manage the investigation, just happens to be the lesbian lover of reporter Jayne Miller from WBAL-TV, the station that introduced Donta Allen to the world.
Reporting on Allen effectively ceased the day after he surfaced a week ago. I could find no confirmation from any media source that he was in the van with Freddie Gray. That is not an angle most in the major media would choose to pursue.
What gave the original Hermann story in the Post its credibility was not just its sourcing, but its adverse impact on the preferred media narrative. In effect, it turned Gray from a martyr into a madman. The pushback from the grievance industry had to have been ferocious.
Not surprisingly, most of the major media eagerly bought the Donta Allen martyrdom saga and shoved the Post's madman scenario down the Orwellian memory hole.
For its part, the Post has chosen an Orwellian alternative, namely doublethink. It grafted the Allen story on to its original and pretended they were compatible. They are not. In running the current hybrid article, the Post is a little closer perhaps to the truth, but a lot closer to trashing its legacy.
Clarification is seriously overdue.