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Baltimore Police Lieutenant Acquitted In Freddie Gray Case

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Baltimore Police Lieutenant Acquitted In Freddie Gray Case

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A man participates in a protest in Union Square after Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was acquitted of all charges for his involvement in the death of Freddie Gray in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

BALTIMORE (Reuters) – A Baltimore police lieutenant was acquitted of manslaughter and two other charges in the April 2015 death of black detainee Freddie Gray, dealing prosecutors another setback in their efforts to secure a conviction in the highly charged case.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams found Lieutenant Brian Rice not guilty in a bench trial. Rice, 42, was the highest-ranking officer charged after Gray’s death from a broken neck suffered in a police transport van.

His death triggered protests and rioting in the mainly black city and stoked a national debate about how police treat minorities.

The controversy flared anew this month with the deaths of African-American men at the hands of police in Minnesota and Louisiana. Tensions were heightened further after police officers were killed in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake asked the community to continue to respect the judicial process during “a very difficult time for our city.”

The scene outside the courthouse in Baltimore on Monday was calm, with only a handful of protesters.

Rice was the fourth of six officers to stand trial in the case. Williams previously acquitted Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr., both of whom were in court on Monday.

In a statement, Rawlings-Blake said Rice would still face a departmental review.

Officer William Porter faces a September retrial after a jury deadlocked.

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 acted negligently by failing to place Gray in a seat belt.

But defense lawyers said Rice was allowed leeway on how to secure a prisoner. The officer made the correct split-second decision while Gray was being combative and a hostile crowd looked 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.

“A mere error in judgment is not enough to show corruption,” the judge said. Rice had faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.

The verdict could renew calls from police union leaders to drop charges against the remaining officers.

In addition to Porter’s retrial, Officer Garrett Miller is scheduled for trial later this month, while Sergeant Alicia White’s trial is set for October.

Warren Alperstein, a Baltimore defense attorney who attended the trial as a spectator, said he was “not surprised by the verdict whatsoever.”

“At the end of the day, the state may have to say we’re cutting our losses and moving on,” he said.

 

(Writing by Ian Simpson in Washington and Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Jeffrey Benkoe)

Photo: A man participates in a protest in Union Square after Baltimore Police Officer Caesar Goodson Jr. was acquitted of all charges for his involvement in the death of Freddie Gray in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., June 23, 2016.  REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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7 Comments

  1. johninPCFL July 18, 2016

    So we can all be ticketed and face judgement (including pre-trial jail thanks to SCOTUS) for not wearing a seatbelt, whether involved in a crash or not, but the police face no action at all when their failure to use a seatbelt (in flagrant violation of the law) results in the death of a suspect?

    Reply
  2. bromeando July 18, 2016

    I don’t know why Gray was apprehended. What did he do that was against the law?

    Reply
  3. DOC July 19, 2016

    What do you expect from people that hate black people.

    Reply
  4. InformedVoter July 19, 2016

    The officers should never have been charged to begin with. There was insufficient evidence. The mayor and ag thought they could gather some gold stars for themselves by pressing for charges. The police union recommended that no charges be filed. Now the mayor says the officers may face some sort of discipline, well this one will go nowhere too. She can count on the union to have her discipline actions set aside. What a waste of time and money. This is part of the reason that race relations are the worst in most of our lifetimes. Obama, by inviting the leaders of hate groups like black lives matter to the white house, has given permission and support to these hate groups.

    Reply
    1. Nancy Delgado July 19, 2016

      <<o. ✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤✤:::::::!ja601s:….,….

      Reply
  5. Stuart July 19, 2016

    NEWS FLASH: Freddie Gray is still alive!

    Reply

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