Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan could not say Thursday whether Baltimore police were ordered by the mayor to stand down earlier this week as rioters wreaked havoc on the city.
Hogan, a Republican, was asked about the claims amid lingering questions over whether local law enforcement could have done more to contain the violence on Monday. Initially, Hogan appeared to deny the "stand down" claims, in effect defending the city's mayor.
"There was no stand down order at all," Hogan told reporters at first.
He explained that local law enforcement were simply "overwhelmed" when the violence started. He noted the state has since brought in resources, including the National Guard, and helped restore order.
However, the governor’s office later said the governor was referring to current policing policy, and that he does not know if there was a stand down order given Monday.
Earlier, a senior law enforcement source involved in the enforcement efforts told Fox News that there was in fact a direct order from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake to her police chief Monday night, effectively tying the hands of officers as they were pelted with rocks and bottles.
Asked directly if the mayor was the one who gave that order, the source said: "You are God damn right it was."
A senior law enforcement official also told Fox News that the mayor told police commanders, "let them loot, it's only property."
The claims followed criticism of the mayor for, over the weekend, saying they were giving space to those who "wished to destroy."
But the mayor has defended her actions amid the unrest, and likewise denied there was any order to hold back.
"You have to understand, it is not holding back. It is responding appropriately," she told Fox News on Tuesday, saying there was no stand-down directive.
Earlier in the week, there appeared to be some tension between the mayor and Hogan, who suggested Rawlings-Blake waited too long to seek a state of emergency.
But on Thursday, he stressed that he has praised the mayor and said he doesn't want to talk about what happened Monday.
"What we are talking about now is trying to keep the neighborhood safe now," Hogan said.
Meanwhile, Baltimore police said Thursday their investigation into the events leading to the death of Freddie Gray, the black man whose death in police custody sparked the protests and later rioting, has been turned over to state officials.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony Batts did not give details of the report or take questions, but did say some 30 detectives worked on the probe and that the police wagon Gray was being transferred in April 12 made a previously undisclosed stop. He shed little other light on the sequence of events leading up to the injuries that later proved fatal to Gray a week later.
Fox News' Leland Vittert and Rich Edson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.