(Reuters) - The autopsy of the Baltimore black man who died after being hurt while in police custody shows he suffered a "high-energy injury" like those in shallow-water diving accidents, the Baltimore Sun reported on Tuesday.
The spinal injury to Freddie Gray, whose death in April triggered protests and rioting, was most likely caused when the police van in which he was riding suddenly decelerated, the newspaper said. It cited a copy of the autopsy report, which has not been made public.
The state medical examiner's office concluded that Gray's death fit the medical and legal definition of an accident. But it ruled the death to be a homicide because officers failed to follow safety procedures "through acts of omission."
Gray, 25, was arrested on April 12 following a foot chase by officers and suffered a severe spinal injury while in police custody.
His death a week later sparked protests over police brutality and looting and rioting that drew national and international attention to the case.
The State's Attorney's Office charged the six officers involved in Gray's arrest and death. Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the driver of the van, is accused of second-degree depraved heart murder.
Three other officers are charged with manslaughter and two officers face lesser charges. The trial is set for October, and the officers have pleaded not guilty.[ID:nL1N0Z82H1]
Though Gray was loaded into the van on his belly, the medical examiner surmised that he may have gotten to his feet and was thrown into the wall during an abrupt change in direction, the Sun said.
He was not belted in, but his wrists and ankles were shackled, putting him "at risk for an unsupported fall during acceleration or deceleration of the van," the newspaper said, citing the autopsy report.
The report was completed on April 30, the day before State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced the criminal charges. The deadline for releasing evidence, including the autopsy report, to defense lawyers is Friday.
Mosby said in a statement that her office did not release the report and that she condemned the leaking of information. A spokesman for the state medical examiner declined to comment.
Lawyers for the officers said in a statement that they had not seen the report and did not have a copy.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington and Donna Owens in Baltimore; Editing by Eric Beech and Lisa Lambert)