BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In the days following the death of Freddie Gray, Baltimore police began ordering riot gear.
According to a report from our media partner, The Baltimore Sun, police spent $275,052 on 690 Damascus Gear suits of hard-shell body armor. They also ordered hundreds of shoulder, shin, thigh and forearm guards. The city also bought 1,399 equipment duffel bags for $82,788. The total bill came to $650,719.
The gear was ordered with next-day delivery, which cost $84,480.
Police spokesman T.J. Smith tells the Sun that the batch of equipment arrived on April 27, 2015 — the same day riots, looting and arson broke out in the city.
Police, however, despite the new supplies, were still ill-equipped that day. Smith says the city supplied gas masks with expired canisters. They had mismatched gear and helmets that were missing padding. Some helmets were dry-rotted. Smith says some gear hadn’t been worn since the riots of 1968.
The city is reported to have spent $2.54 million on police riot gear between spring and summer of that year, according to purchase orders that were released under a Maryland Public Information Act request by the Sun.
Freddie Gray died in April, 2015, after he was reported to have suffered spinal cord injuries while in Baltimore City police custody. Following his death, tensions sparked protests and rioting. Many businesses were damaged, looted, and burned. More than 150 officers were hurt in the riots.