BALTIMORE (WJZ)– In April, chaos on the streets of Baltimore.
Hundreds of police officers were injured in the Freddie Gray riots.
In a WJZ exclusive, two of those officers open up, sharing their stories only with Vic Carter.
April 27th—Baltimore erupted in violence as anger over the death of Freddie Gray boiled over on the streets of Baltimore.
Police officers pelleted with bricks, bottles, rocks and concrete.
Over 100 officers were injured.
Captain Byron Conaway and Sergeant Kyle Gaskin were on the front lines—seriously hurt.
They agreed to talk with WJZ and for the first time are telling what it was like on that unforgettable day in April.
VIC: “How would you describe what you saw?”
GASKIN: “There were some people who wanted– who had a legitimate concern and desire for justice… and I felt like this was a perversion of that. Some of those people were like vultures on a carcass. This was just their opportunity to create havoc and to just throw rocks, loot the mall.”
VIC: “Did you ever get a sense of how many people you were facing?”
CONAWAY: “It seemed like the world at the time, but I would say it was– what 400, 500 people at Mondawmin?”
GASKIN: “It was a couple hundred people there– but actively throwing stuff probably 50 or 60, it is kind of crazy to see 60 people with bricks brought a city to its knees.”
VIC: “How long had you been out there actually working before you were struck?”
CONAWAY: “I was on my eighth hour probably by the time I got struck and I was watching officers fall… fall out bleeding. I felt a rock hit me in my groin. I went to the emergency room, stayed in the hospital for about three hours and went back out on the street.
VIC: “Sergeant, tell us about your injury…”
GASKIN: “We were on line, they were throwing rocks and all that stuff… and somebody lobbed a cinderblock over the line…”
VIC: “Were you knocked unconscious?”
GASKIN: “I threw up in my mouth a little bit…oh I had a concussion.”
VIC: “Did it surprise you that with all the police presence– that it continued to go and sometimes build?”
CONAWAY: “We were outnumbered. We like to be two to one– but we weren’t. I would say an additional thousand officers would have been great to have at that point, but we didn’t have it so we were outnumbered.”
VIC: “There’s also been a lot of talk about whether you were asked to stand down– did you ever hear that call?”
CONAWAY: “I don’t know where they’re getting that from, but I can tell you I would give that order, and I didn’t give that order to stand down.”
VIC: “Do you look at your job differently in any way– has it given you any type of perspective that you wouldn’t have had?”
GASKIN: “It’s kind of like a pendulum swing. We’re just at one end of the swing right now and I’m pretty sure it will go back… around September 11th, police and firefighters could do no wrong. Well now, some people buy us food and give us hugs, to other people, we’re the scourge of the earth. It’ll come back. It’s just one of those things, you’ve got to wait it out.”
Both Captain Conaway and Sergeant Gaskin are back on the job.
All the police officers injured during the riots have since been released from the hospital.