*The prisoner riding in the Baltimore police van that carried critically injured Freddie Gray has been denying reports that he believed Gray intentionally hurt himself.
Donta Allen, speaking to TV station WBAL, contradicted a police document leaked to The Washington Post Wednesday that said he had heard Gray “banging against the walls” of the van and believed he “was intentionally trying to injure himself.”
“It was a smooth ride. We went straight to the station. All I heard was a little banging,” said Allen, 22, who lightly tapped a staircase bannister to demonstrate the sound.
Gray, 25, was unconscious when cops later opened the vehicle doors at police station on April 12. He had a serious spinal injury, went into a coma and died a week later — touching off protests that this week gave way to riots. It’s been reported that the spinal injury suffered by Gray was similar to what happens during a car accident.
Gray was already in the van when cops arrested Allen on suspicion of stealing. Because of a barrier dividing the rear of the police van into two sections, Allen didn’t see Gray and initially didn’t realize that there was another passenger inside the vehicle.
“There’s no place where a man can hurt himself in there,” Allen said.
The Washington Post story that cited the police document immediately came under attack by other reporters, such as WBAL’s Jayna Miller, who has reported Gray was unresponsive when police locked him inside the van.
Allen on Thursday distanced himself from what investigators say he told them.
“I told homicide that. I don’t work for the police,” he said in the WBAL interview. “I did not tell the police nothing.”