Baltimore residents have been protesting for Freddie Gray—the 25-year-old black man whose spine was severed in police custody earlier this month—under the theory that excessive force was involved in his death. But according to a new “report” that surfaced today and started popping up on everyone’s racist uncle’s Facebook feed, Gray had a pre-existing spinal condition that may have contributed to his death. There’s just one problem: this is total bullshit.

It appears this report originated from a right-wing website called the Fourth Estate, under the headline, “BREAKING: FREDDIE GRAY ALLEGEDLY HAD SPINE SURGERY JUST ONE WEEK BEFORE ARREST.”

Explosive news that, if true, could exonerate the police and make a mockery of the protests now taking place in multiple cities. Take a gander at the Fourth Estate’s fine reportage.

UPDATE: More information has serviced, and a story will be released at 6 PM EST Wednesday that blows the Freddie Gray settlement/surgery/car accident story WIDE open

CONFIRMED: Court records show Freddie Gray was receiving a structured settlement from Allstate Insurance and attempted to convert it into one lump sum in early March


EXCLUSIVE: The Fourth Estate has been told that Freddie Gray’s life-ending injuries to his spine may have possibly been the result of spinal and neck surgery that he allegedly received a week before he was arrested, not from rough excessively rough treatment or abuse from police.

The Fourth Estate has contacted sources who allege that Freddie Gray received spinal and neck surgery a week before we was arrested, and was allegedly receiving a large structured settlement from Allstate Insurance. The surgery is allegedly related to a car accident in which Gray was involved.

Sources allege that Gray also attempted to refinance his structured settlement into one lump sum payment through Peachtree Funding.

If this is true, then it is possible that Gray’s spinal injury resulting from his encounter with the Baltimore Police was not the result of rough-handling or abuse, but rather a freak accident that occurred when Gray should have been at home resting, not selling drugs.

This report, which includes screenshots of a settlement listed on the Howard County Circuit Court Records, apparently has just enough detail to ring true and was quickly picked up by rabid conservatives at the Free Republic in a now-deleted post cited by the Baltimore Sun.

From there it spread to Facebook and Twitter and other unfiltered news outlets, where you may have seen your more enlightened friends connecting the dots.

In fact, @ProgPoker, the spinal surgery rumor had been debunked—if you had only been reading credible news reports.

Although Gray’s so-called pre-existing injuries never happened, the court record screenshots used to bolster the claim were real—and the subject of an April 23 Baltimore Sun article about Gray’s involvement in a lead-paint exposure lawsuit.

As children, [Gray] and his two sisters were found to have damaging lead levels in their blood, which led to multiple educational, behavioral and medical problems, according to a lawsuit they filed in 2008 against the owner of a Sandtown-Winchester home they rented for four years.


The Grays’ case was scheduled to go to trial in February 2010. It had been postponed to that date because the Grays’ lawyers had four different lead paint trials scheduled to begin in the first two weeks of December 2009.

But both sides agreed to a settlement. It is not known if the Gray siblings received a monetary award, but a friend said the house on Lorraine Avenue was bought with lead paint money.

So Gray and his sisters got a settlement from the city of Baltimore because they were poisoned by lead paint. There is no proof that Freddie received a settlement from the city in connection with a car accident that might have damaged his neck or spine, or that he might have had neck or spine surgery recently.

The truth is out there.

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