Justice continues to evade Freddie Gray.
Lt. Brian Rice, the highest-ranking officer involved in the arrest, and subsequent death, of Baltimore resident Freddie Gray has been acquitted of all charges. Rice, the fourth of six officers to go to trial for the case, didn't so much as get a slap on the wrist for his actions despite the fact that the judge believed he demonstrated — at best — very bad judgment.
Rice had been facing charges of manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Prosecutors had decided to drop a second misconduct in office charge relating to Gray’s arrest and Judge Barry Williams also dismissed an assault charge, WBALTV reports.
In the end, on Monday, Judge Williams acquitted Rice of all charges, saying that prosecutors failed to prove Rice’s actions were criminal and that while Rice showed bad judgement in not securing Gray into the van with a seatbelt, it is not a crime. There was no evidence presented, he added, that Rice knew of the policy that required arrestees to be secured. The judge said that he could not make “assumptions of presumptions” in making his decision.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake released a statement shortly after the verdict:
“Now that the criminal case has come to an end, Lt. Rice will face an administrative review by the Police Department,” the statement read. “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.”
Gray died on April 19, 2015, about a week after suffering a fatal neck injury while in the back of a police van. Rice is the officer who initiated the pursuit of Gray.
Last month, Officer Ceasar Goodson, who was driving the van at the time of Gray’s arrest, was also acquitted of all charges. Officer Edward Nero was also acquitted in May, both by Judge Williams in a bench trial with no jury. The jury trial of Officer William Porter ended in December with a hung jury.
(Photos from top: AP Photo/Steve Ruark, Justice for Freddie Gray via Facebook)