Roommates, we are sending our prayers to the family of Juan Grant. Juan, 33, was the best friend of Freddie Gray, and the leader behind the demonstrations that demanded police to take accountability after Freddie’s passing from injuries he suffered while in police custody back in 2015. Juan took on the activist role following Freddie’s passing.
According to the Baltimore Sun, Juan passed away on Saturday. His passing came on the four-year-anniversary of Freddie Gray’s funeral, and the riot that broke out later that day.
Juan had been heading to his grandmother’s home when his vehicle collided with a dirt bike. His grandmother, Frederina Grant, said after the collision he got out of the car. “I don’t know whether it was to confront this person or to see if this person was okay.” “Whoever it was just shot him,” she said.
He was taken to the hospital where he was announced deceased with gunshot wounds to the head.
Melvin Russell, a former police commander in charge of the police department’s community relation efforts reflected on the “frustration, anger and hostility” he received from Juan and others at the time of Freddie’s passing. Melvin said, “That’s how we met, through the frustration of what was going on.” Melvin had just retired from his position last week.
Juan and Melvin were able to form a relationship, which led to Melvin getting Juan and others a meeting with then-Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and then-Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis.
Melvin and Juan occasionally spoke on the phone over the past few years, but Melvin was the only officer to have a relationship with Juan. Melvin said that any speculation of Juan being a police informant was false.
“It was not a situation where he was providing information to the police. Our conversations were not about police matters — they were just about the state of our city.”
William H. “Billy” Murphy, the attorney for Freddie Gray’s family said, “After Freddie’s death, he became an activist in every sense of the word. He participated in almost every demonstration about it and continued after Freddie’s death to be a spokesperson in his and Freddie’s neighborhood about the evils of police brutality and misconduct and what had to be done to reform the department.”
Juan’s brother shares a child with Freddie’s twin sister, and Juan and Freddie considered themselves to be brothers-in-law.
We send our condolences to the family of Juan Grant during this difficult time.