BALTIMORE — In life, friends say, Freddie Gray was an easygoing, slender young man who liked girls and partying here in Sandtown, a section of west Baltimore pocked by boarded-up rowhouses and known to the police for drug dealing and crime.
In death, Mr. Gray, 25, has become the latest symbol in the running national debate over police treatment of black men — all the more searing, people here say, in a city where the mayor and police commissioner are black.
Questions are swirling around just what happened to Mr. Gray, who died here Sunday — a week after he was chased and restrained by police officers, and suffered a spine injury, which later killed him, in their custody. The police say they have no evidence that their officers used force. A lawyer for Mr. Gray’s family accuses the department of a cover-up, and on Tuesday the Justice Department opened a civil rights inquiry into his death.