BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams has ruled that Lt. Brian Rice, the highest-ranking Baltimore City Police officer to be charged in relation to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, is not guilty of all the charges he faced — involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.
Gray died on April 19, 2015, a week after he suffered a severe spinal cord injury while being transported in the back of a city police van. His death prompted riots last year in Baltimore.
Rice is the third officer charged in the Gray case to get a full acquittal from Judge Williams.
“The judge decided that there was no proof of any of the charges yet again,” according to WJZ’s Mike Hellgren, who was inside the courtroom as the verdict was read.
“He had the same reasoning in the prior cases. For involuntary manslaughter they would have had to prove that this was grossly negligent conduct. He said he thought the environment was tense out there and Lt. Rice made a judgment call that it was appropriate not to seatbelt him and that the new general order that mandates seatbelt use had not reached Lt. Rice. There was no proof presented that Lt. Rice had read that general order. He also said reckless endangerment failed as a matter of law, that because Lt. Rice did not drive the vehicle simply putting him inside without seatbelting was not reckless endangerment. And misconduct in office he felt that the state did not prove their burden that Lt. Rice was corrupt in his duties and failed in his duties. So the state had a significantly high burden of proof here, they failed on all counts yet again.”