In the days after Freddie Gray died — and with the nation’s attention focused on Baltimore — many questions remained about his arrest and ride in a police transport van. Even as police and prosecutors investigated the incident, The Baltimore Sun sought to answer those questions, by recreating the crucial minutes during which Gray sustained a severe and ultimately fatal spinal injury.
Reporters hit the streets of West Baltimore, beginning at the spot of Gray’s arrest on April 12 and following the van’s route, using video to highlight key intersections and to give viewers a look at the neighborhood. They also interviewed residents and business owners whose accounts raised questions about the official version of events, including a police account that Gray was arrested “without force or incident.”
The reporters revealed that police investigators had missed important evidence. Video from one store’s security camera had been erased before detectives arrived to examine it. Police failed to closely examine another video, missing footage of the van coming down a street.
Meanwhile, designers worked to create an interactive that chronicled and shed light on the key moments from the much-discussed arrest and van ride, and the encompassing 45-minute mystery — starting with 8:39 a.m., when Gray first made eye contact with a Baltimore police officer, to 9:24 a.m., when a medic unit was called to the Western District police station, where Gray was in “serious medical distress.”
The resulting video timeline highlighted six points from the mysterious morning in a dramatic but accessible mobile-friendly presentation. Each timeline slide featured video from the scene, including some with eyewitness testimony, along with a satellite map showing the locations and chronology. The interactive distilled in-depth reporting that would become a 2,200-word story into a dynamic, six-slide timeline, which succinctly laid out the disparities between the police and residents’ accounts of those key moments.
In just a few days, The Sun produced an innovative video timeline and comprehensive digital package, one that provided the most detailed narrative of the 45-minute mystery of Gray’s death.