Baltimore police's handling of injured suspects questioned

BALTIMORE -- Prosecutors say that while Freddie Gray was being transported by police he repeatedly asked for medical help but the officers ignored his pleas. Salahudeen Abdul-Aziz said he had a similar experience.

Salahudeen Abdul-Aziz
CBS News

Abdul-Aziz said that in 2009 he was severely beaten by police just a few blocks from where Gray was arrested.

"One cop hold my leg down, the other one with his knee in my chest," he said. Asked how many times the officers hit him, he said "after five I lost count."

Despite several facial fractures and a damaged left eye, the police took him to central booking. But officials there turned him away and sent him directly to a hospital.

He's not alone. Records obtained by CBS News show that from June 2012 to April of this year, about 700 detainees had what would seem to be visible injuries -- including fractures, head wounds and severe swelling -- and were taken to the hospital by police only after they were turned away by central booking. How the injuries happened is not specified.

Abdul-Aziz filed a police brutality lawsuit and a jury awarded him $170,000. A Baltimore Sun investigation last year found that from 2011 to 2014, the city paid about $5.7 million in more than 100 police abuse lawsuits.

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Salahudeen Abdul-Aziz shows where he was arrested and allegedly beaten by Baltimore Police in 2009.
CBS News

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts was hired in 2012 -- in large part to help stop the abuse. He insists he's making progress.

"Although I can tell you that officer-involved shootings are down [and] excessive force lawsuits dramatically down, our public trust is still something that we have to garner."

Batts said it will take a long time to change 30 years of Baltimore police history and, as an example of how serious he is, he told us that in his short time here nearly 50 police department employees have been fired for misconduct.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.