A Baltimore judge has found Lt. Brian Rice, the fourth of six Baltimore police officers to go on trial in the death of Freddie Gray last year, not guilty of involuntary manslaughter. That’s the most serious charge Rice had faced; he was also cleared of lesser charges.
Two other officers charged after Gray died in police custody in April 2015 have been acquitted in bench trials. A third officer, who was actually the first to go on trial, saw a mistrial declared in December after the jury couldn’t reach a verdict. That officer is set to be re-tried later this year.
Rice’s bench trial was heard by Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams, who also heard the other three cases. In addition to the manslaughter charge, Williams acquitted Rice of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment.
As The Two-Way reported earlier this month, Rice was identified as the police officer who began the pursuit of Gray. He’s also the highest-ranking officer in the case against officers who are accused of recklessly endangering Gray by failing to secure him with a seat belt when he rode in the back of a police van. Gray died on April 19 of injuries that he sustained while in police custody — seven days after he was apprehended.
Rice could have faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted of manslaughter, reports member station WYPR in Baltimore.
Defense attorney and legal analyst Warren Brown had predicted Rice would not be convicted of any of the charges. He told WYPR, “The crux of it is going to be that the judge is going to say that he is not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Lt. Rice acted unreasonably at stop two in not belting Freddie Gray in.”