Freddie Gray Baltimore police fatality
A local captures the arrest of Freddie Gray, who died a week later of a broken neck YouTube/Les Grossman

Hundreds of residents of Baltimore - made famous by cult TV show The Wire - and civil rights campaigners have gathered outside a local police station and City Hall to protest after 25-year-old African-American Freddie Gray died in hospital a week after being arrested.

His spine was virtually severed, 80% severed, in the neck area
- William "Billy" Murphy Jr, lawyer for the Gray family

Gray, who according to some reports was 27, was arrested on Sunday 12 April for a violation not yet disclosed by the police, though Reuters is reporting that he may have been carrying a knife. When he attempted to run away, four officers restrained him and were filmed by a local dragging him into a van.

According to the lawyer for the Gray family, William "Billy" Murphy Jr., "While in police custody for committing no crime - for which they had no justification for making the arrest except he was a black man running - his spine was virtually severed, 80% severed, in the neck area."

Gray was later taken to University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center where he went into a coma and died on Sunday (19 April). Gray's stepfather, Richard Shipley, told the Baltimore Sun: "He's gone. What else is there to say?"

Deputy Commissioner Jerry Rodriguez said explanations of why Gray was being arrested were "a bit vague", but said officers suspected the victim was "immediately involved or had been recently involved in criminal activity". The four officers have been placed on administrative leave while the case is investigated.

Mayor of Baltimore Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said: "I will ensure we will hold the right people accountable."

Gray's is the latest in a line of deaths of young black men at the hands of police officers in the US, many captured on film. These include the death of Michael Brown, which led to the Ferguson riots; Walter Scott in South Carolina, shot as he ran away; the "choke hold" death of Eric Garner in New York; and the apparently accidental shooting of Eric Courtney Harris in Oklahoma.