BALTIMORE – Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Wednesday that she has fired Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, 2 1/2 months after the city broke out into riots following the death of a man who was injured in police custody.
Rawlings-Blake announced her decision in a three-paragraph news release that also noted she has named Deputy Police Commissioner Kevin Davis as interim commissioner.
The mayor scheduled a news conference with Davis for later Wednesday afternoon.
Rawlings did not give a reason, but the move comes amid a spike in the city’s homicide rate.
Baltimore was rocked with civil unrest in late April after black resident Freddie Gray died one week after suffering a critical spinal injury in police custody. Six police officers have been criminally charged in Gray’s death.
Since the rioting stopped, the city has seen a sharp increase in violence, with 155 homicides this year, a 48 percent increase over the same period last year.
The U.S. Justice Department is conducting a civil rights review of the department, and Batts has been criticized by the Baltimore police union.
On Tuesday, the police department announced that an outside organization will review the department’s response to the civil unrest that followed Gray’s death. Most of the unrest took place on April 27, prompted by Gray’s death on April 19.