Three of the six Baltimore police officers who were involved in the arrest and transport of 25-year-old Freddie Gray in April 2015 have now been cleared of all charges related to his death.
Today (July 18), Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams acquitted Lt. Brian Rice—the highest ranking officer connected to Gray’s fatal injury, which occurred when he was cuffed but not properly secured in a police van—in a bench trial. Rice pleaded not guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Williams had previously dismissed a changed of second-degree assault and the prosecution dropped another misconduct charge before the proceedings began.
Per The Baltimore Sun, the judge felt the prosecution did not successfully argue the case:
Williams said prosecutors had failed to meet their burden of proving the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, instead asking the court to rely on “presumptions or assumptions”—something it cannot do. He said the court “cannot be swayed by sympathy, prejudice or public opinion.”
Based on the law, he said, the prosecution failed to prove the elements of the crimes.
The prosecution did not show Rice acted in a “grossly negligent manner,” required of manslaughter, he said. It did not show that Rice acted in an unreasonable way or ignored the substantial risk in placing Gray in a police van without a seat belt, required for reckless endangerment, he said. And, it did not show Rice acted “corruptly,” which is required for misconduct in office, he said.
Williams said a “mistake” or an “error in judgment” by Rice was not enough to prove the crimes alleged.
Williams also presided over the bench trials for the two previously acquitted officers, Caesar Goodson Jr. and Edward Nero. Officer William G. Porter’s trial by jury ended in a mistrial; he will be retried on September 6. Officer Garrett Miller will appear in court on July 27 and Sgt. Alicia White will go to trial on October 13.