The highest ranking officer arrested for the Freddie Gray death, Lieutenant Brian Rice, has just recently been acquitted in the case. Was the right decision made?
A Maryland judge has acquitted Baltimore police Lieutenant Brian Rice over the death of black detainee Freddie Gray.
Rice, 42, is the highest-ranking of six officers who were charged after police suspect Gray, 25, suffered a broken neck in the back of a police van in April, 2015.
On Monday, he became the third cop to walk free in the high profile case as Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams acquitted him of all charges.
Three earlier trails resulted in two acquittals and a mistrial.
Rice faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Williams previously dismissed a second-degree assault charge, and prosecutors dropped a second misconduct charge.
He had selected a bench trial rather than a jury trial, putting his fate in the judge’s hands.
Monday’s verdict is the latest setback for prosecutors, who have failed to secure a conviction in the trials of four officers thus far.
Rice, who is white, ordered two officers on bicycle to chase Gray, 25, when he fled unprovoked in a high-crime area.
Prosecutors said Rice was negligent in shackling Gray’s legs and not securing him in a seat belt, as required by department protocol.
But defense lawyers said Rice was allowed leeway on whether to get inside a van to secure a prisoner.
The officer made a correct decision in a few seconds while Gray was being combative and a hostile crowd was looking on, they said.
Williams, who heard the case without a jury at Rice’s request, said prosecutors failed to show the lieutenant was aware of a departmental policy requiring seat belts for prisoners during transport.
‘The state did not prove the defendant was aware of the new policy,’ the judge said in court.
Gray was arrested April 12 after running from an officer on bike patrol outside a public housing project not far from the Western District station house. A neighbor’s video showed him handcuffed behind his back and hoisted into Goodson’s van.