Lieutenant Brian Rice, the highest ranking officer who faced charges related to the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray while he was in police custody in April of last year, was found not guilty on all charges against him on Monday, according to the Baltimore Sun. Rice opted for a trial by judge rather than jury, leaving Baltimore circuit judge Barry Williams to decide whether Rice was guilty of charges including involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.
Specifically, the prosecution argued that Rice was responsible for Gray's death because the officer failed to secure Gray with a seat-belt in the back of the police van where Gray sustained fatal injuries to the head and neck.
Rice, aged 42, is the fourth of six officers to be tried for charges related to the death of Gray, and the third to be tried and acquitted of all charges by judge Williams. Officer William Porter was tried by a jury in December, but his trial concluded with a hung jury. The prosecution has yet to be able to place anyone behind bars in connection to Gray's death.
Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake issued a statement about the verdict on Monday morning, noting that Rice will undergo an "administrative review" now that his trial is over, and asked for "respect for the judicial process" during the ongoing difficult time for the city:
Two more officers, Officer Garrett Miller and Sargeant Alicia White are the next and final officers who will stand trial in connection to Gray's death. The Baltimore Sun reports that Miller's trial will commence on July 27, and White will begin her trial on October 13. Both officers have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
The Baltimore Sun reported that Rice's defense attorney's said that Rice's behavior at the time Gray was arrested and transported was "professional and correct," while during closing arguments, Deputy State's Attorney Janice Bledsoe stated that Gray's death "cannot be blamed on poor judgment or error." Bledsoe added that Rice's actions were part of a chain of events that lead to Gray's death.