Baltimore Judge Barry Williams found Baltimore police lieutenant Brian Rice not guilty in the death of Freddie Gray on Monday, a Baltimore man whose death in police custody sparked riots and protests across the country.
Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore’s ambitious young state’s attorney, charged Rice with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office. He was the fourth of six officers to be charged in Gray’s death. Three officers have been acquitted and a fourth case ended in a mistrial.
Rice elected to proceed with a bench trial, in which a judge renders a verdict instead of a jury. Williams acquitted two other officers in the Gray case, Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson in earlier trials.
Prosecutors alleged that Rice should have ensured Gray was properly secured by seatbelt after he was placed in a police van following his arrest for possession of an illegal switchblade. The state argued that police, under Rice’s command, subjected Gray to a so called “rough ride,” in which officers drive erratically while an unsecured suspect is thrown around wildly. Grey later died in a coma with several fractured vertebrae and a severed spine.
The defense countered that Gray’s injuries occurred at a point during which Rice had no access to him, and that the prosecution could not conclusively demonstrate that police gave Gray a “rough ride.”
The verdict is the latest in a series of setbacks for Mosby, whose conduct and acuity in the case has been criticized by legal observers. (RELATED: One Mistake May Have Cost Marilyn Mosby A Conviction In The Freddie Gray Case)
“This prosecutor rushed to judgment, did not utilize the grand jury process, and decided to charge with a speed that is just unheard of in this kind of case,” Rene Sandler, a former Maryland prosecutor, told The Daily Caller News Foundation earlier this month. “Her early on mistakes have come back to haunt her.”
Rice has brought a lawsuit against Mosby for false imprisonment, defamation of character, and violation of rights, pointing towards inflammatory statements Mosby made publicly as evidence of an ulterior motive.
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