Judge clears another officer in Freddie Gray case

Police | Verdict raises doubt prosecutors will get a criminal conviction in the case
by Evan Wilt
Posted 7/18/16, 01:24 pm

A Baltimore judge acquitted Lt. Brian Rice, the highest-ranking officer tied to the death of Freddie Gray, of all charges today.

This is the fourth time prosecutors have failed to secure a conviction against any of the six officers connected to the Gray case. Prosecutors accused Rice of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office for failing to seatbelt Gray in a police van, where he fatally broke his neck. Today Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams threw out each charge, citing a lack of evidence.

Rice initiated the pursuit of Gray on April 12, 2015, and was the supervising officer during his arrest for possessing an allegedly illegal switchblade. While in the police van, Gray broke his neck and fell into a coma. Police took Gray to a trauma center, but he died a week later from his injuries.

A medical examiner determined Gray sustained his injuries while in police custody. Prosecutors argued Rice, a well-trained and highly qualified officer, neglected his duty to safely secure Gray during the arrest, causing his death. But Williams said an error in judgment is not enough to show corruption and at best prosecutors proved Rice made a mistake.

Earlier this year, Williams also acquitted officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr. of all charges related to the case. Goodson was the only officer charged with murder—all others faced charges for lesser offenses.

In December, officer William Porter’s case ended in a mistrial after a deadlocked jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on any of the four charges against him. Porter will go back to trial Sept. 6.

The two remaining officers, Garrett Miller and Sgt. Alicia White, will go before a judge on July 27 and Oct. 13, respectively.

Gray’s death sparked riots and protests throughout downtown Baltimore, the worst the city had seen in decades.

Two days after Gray’s death, police officials suspended all six officers without pay. Criminal charges followed shortly after, amid ongoing public pressure and city protests.

Rice’s verdict comes at a pivotal time as the recent police killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile have reinvigorated the anti-police brutality movement. After the Sterling and Castile shootings, a gunman angry about police violence attacked officers working a peaceful protest in Dallas, shooting 12 and killing five. And yesterday morning, a gunman targeted police in an ambush attack in Baton Rouge, La., shooting six and killing three.

Over the weekend in Baltimore, police arrested 65 protesters marching against police brutality after they blocked part of Interstate 83. The protesters chanted “hands up, don’t shoot” and one wore a shirt that read “I am Freddie Gray” while another carried a “Black Lives Matter” sign.

Ten of the 65 arrested were minors. Police said they were illegally walking on a highway and failed to obey police instruction.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement today Rice still faces consequences for his actions. Although he escaped a criminal penalty, Rice will face an internal police department administrative review.

“This has been a very difficult time for our city, and I thank the community for their patience during this time and ask their continued respect for the judicial process as we move forward,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Evan Wilt

Evan is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD reporter.

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  •  William Peck 1958's picture
    William Peck 1958
    Posted: Mon, 07/18/2016 02:49 pm

    >>Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement today Rice still faces consequences for his actions. 

    - at best he made a mistake, said the judge. But daddy's girl will still try to get him in trouble.

    She's only the mayor because her father, Pete Rawlings, was a giant of a man (and a blowhard) who blew his little girl into office. 

    The previous mayor, Shiela Dixon, was conviced of gift card fraud. At which time Stephanie RAWLINGS-Blake got to be mayor.

  • Laura W
    Posted: Tue, 07/19/2016 05:58 pm

    Well, if somebody in your custody breaks his neck because he wasn't properly seatbelted in, then someone sure wasn't doing their job right. Whether that's criminal or not I don't know (and maybe they can't determine where to place the blame), but don't you think there should be some sort of consequences for that?

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Sat, 07/23/2016 10:22 pm

    Something tells me that the Blue Wall of Silence may be prevailing in this case.  Somebody was very negligent, at best, and a man is dead because of it.  I have heard of freak accidents that break necks, but for heaven's sake!  The only thing that I can think of that would not be abuse is that Mr. Gray was not secured, the van hit a bump or made a sudden sharp turn, and Mr. Gray fell off and banged his head at an awkward angle.  Something similar happened to Gen. Patton.  As far as I am concerned, though, all of the police officers who were present in the van should lose their jobs, unless someone 'fesses up.