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04.28.15 10:45 PM ET

The Last Time Freddie Gray Was Arrested

The bondsman who bailed him out of jail says the 25-year-old learned that staying put meant certain arrest.

BALTIMORE — The bail bondsman who paid Freddie Gray’s way out of jail twice this year said the 25-year-old Baltimore man ran from police because he had learned a simple lesson.

“The last time he stood there he caught a charge,” Quintin Reid said from his office on West North Avenue overlooking protesters and cops on Tuesday afternoon.

Police carry an injured officer from the streets near Mondawmin Mall on April 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Violent street clashes erupted in Baltimore after friends and family gathered for the funeral of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man whose death in custody triggered a fresh wave of protests over US police tactics.  Police said at least seven officers were injured -- one of them was unresponsive -- as youths hurled bricks and bottles and destroyed at least one police vehicle in the vicinity of the shopping mall not far from the church where the funeral took place.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

Reid was talking about Gray’s previous interaction with police, a late March arrest for drug possession. Reid said Gray had heroin. The charge has since been dropped for an even simpler reason than Gray’s decision to run. “Abated by death,” says the court document Reid printed off.

Police still haven’t said why they arrested Gray on April 12, other than that they found a knife on him after a foot chase that reportedly followed them making eye contact. (As Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake put it: “We know that having a knife is not necessarily a crime.”)

Reid said Gray was targeted for the same reason that scores of others are in Sandtown: being a black man standing on the street in a drug-infested area is probable cause enough.

“It’s not probable cause. I know that,” Reid said. “But these kids don’t know that.”

Reid says Gray told him after the March arrest that cops planted dope on him in a potato chip bag. The Baltimore Police Department didn’t respond to a request for comment on this loaded allegation, but considering the ongoing investigation into Gray’s death, the authorities are loathe to say anything.

Reid helped Gray make his $1,500 bail in March, and before that did the same in January for a burglary charge. Gray was, for some reason, in an abandoned house then.

For Reid, the story of Gray and Sandtown are one in the same: both left to fend for themselves. Reid broke down Gray’s sad case with the heft of a man who has spent his entire life in the city and the last 23 years looking down on the stretch of North Avenue that may be a road to chaos tonight.

“The boy had lead poisoning, a bum education. He was a product of his environment,” Reid said. “What else was he gonna do? It’s not like the boy could go and be a stockbroker.”

“He wasn’t no angel,” Reid said.

“The question isn’t ‘Why did he run?’ It’s ‘Why didn’t he run fast enough?’”