Highest-ranking officer in Freddie Gray case found not guilty by judge

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A Baltimore judge ruled Monday that the fourth officer to be tried in the death of Freddie Gray was not guilty of all charges.

Judge Barry G. Williams announced he found Lt. Brian Rice not guilty on charges of manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office relating to Gray's death last April. Gray sustained a neck injury after being arrested by Rice and his officers and fell into a coma, dying seven days later.

Rice had requested and was granted a bench trial, meaning the judge would decide the verdict rather than a jury. In announcing his decision, Williams said he felt the prosecution had failed to meet its burden of proof that Rice was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, characterizing the incident as a "mistake" or an "error in judgment."


Gray's death sparked national outrage over the treatment of black people at the hands of police. Thousands attended protests for weeks in Baltimore and prosecutors moved quickly to indict the officers involved.

Despite the outrage, the legal system has yet to reach a guilty verdict on any of the officers involved in Gray's death. Of the three other officers charged, none has received a guilty verdict: Two of the officers, Edward M. Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr., were also acquitted by Williams in a separate bench trial, while a third, William G. Porter, is scheduled to be retried due to a hung jury.

Prosecuting attorneys argued that Rice bore responsibility for Gray's safety as the highest-ranking officer participating in the arrest, and that he improperly secured Gray in the back of a police van to "punish and humiliate" the man for resisting. The defense countered by arguing Gray's "belligerent" behavior put the officers' safety in jeopardy.

Rice originally faced additional misconduct and second-degree-assault charges, but those were dropped by prosecutors and dismissed by the judge, respectively, early in the trial.


There are three pending criminal trials remaining in the Freddie Gray case. Officer Garrett Miller is scheduled to stand trial July 27, Porter will be retried Sept. 6, and Sgt. Alicia White's trial will begin Oct. 13. The state's attorney has not said whether Rice's verdict will affect its plans for those trials.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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