Justice Department probes Baltimore police-custody death

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Edward Brown speaks at a protest outside City Hall about Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Monday, April 20, 2015. Baltimore’s top police officials, mayor and prosecutor sought to calm a “community on edge” Monday while investigating how Gray suffered a fatal spine injury while under arrest. | Amy Davis / The Baltimore Sun via AP

BALTIMORE — The Justice Department says it has opened a federal investigation after a man died of spinal injuries he suffered after an arrest in Baltimore.

Spokeswoman Dena Iverson announced the investigation Tuesday by the department’s Civil Rights Division.

The investigation will look for civil rights violations in the treatment of Freddie Gray, who was arrested April 12 and placed in a transport van.

He was rushed to the hospital in critical condition about 30 minutes later and died Sunday of what police described as a significant spinal injury.

Baltimore police have said they’re looking into why Gray was stopped and what led to his injury.

In federal civil rights cases such as this one, investigators look for evidence that an officer willfully violated a person’s civil rights by using unreasonable force.

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