Ranking officer found not guilty in Gray's death


Brian Rice, 42, of manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office after a week-long bench trial, finding that Rice did not commit a crime when he loaded Gray into a police transport van without seat-belting him.

The acquittal of Lt. Brian Rice renews questions about the prospects for the remaining cases stemming from the death of Gray, who suffered a fatal neck injury in April 2015 after he was bundled into the back of a police transport van.

Of the six charged with Gray's death, three officers were white and three officers were black. Officers Edward Nero and Officer Cesar Goodson were acquitted in a bench trial by the same judge.

If that happens, Judge Williams will hear the same evidence again and announce the same verdict again. In each case, the judge focused on whether the officers deliberately disregarded the department's general orders requiring them to seat-belt detainees. Judge Williams - who has ruled previously that a "reasonable officer" would have placed Gray (who was violently resisting arrest) in the van without a seatbelt - was apparently not swayed by the arguments.

Baltimore lawyer A. Dwight Pettit, who works on police brutality cases, defined "rough ride" to the New York Times as follows: "A rough ride is basically the police driving in such a manner to inflict injury or pain on the person being transported because they have knowledge that the person is not secure in the vehicle and is usually handcuffed or possibly leg chained and therefore has no way to protect themselves".

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

Rice was the fourth of six officers to stand trial in the case.

A Baltimore court has acquitted the highest-ranking officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray on all charges, reports confirm. "The failure to seat belt is the basis of the crime", said prosecutor Michael Schatzow during the trial, compared the act to "handing someone a loaded gun". The grand jury also added charges of reckless endangerment and misconduct in office against all six officers. Legal experts have said Goodson's acquittal last month could set the tone for officers still awaiting trial.

Earlier this month, the judge granted a defense motion to throw out one of the charges against Rice, saying the state failed to show he committed assault. He said officers were concerned because Gray was not cooperative and it was unclear what onlookers would do if they took the time to fasten Gray in the van before driving to the station.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday he doesn't see the point of moving forward with trials against the three remaining officers. The charges varied from officer to officer and included everything from false arrest to second-degree depraved-heart murder. Officer William Porter is scheduled to be re-tried after a mistrial was declared in December.

On July 7, five white police officers were shot dead at one such protest in Dallas, Texas.

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