Shift Commander in Freddie Gray Case Acquitted
Lt. Brian Rice elected for a bench trial
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2016 10:57 AM CDT
Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Rice.   (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun via AP)

(Newser) – The highest-ranking officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray has been acquitted of all charges. Circuit Judge Barry Williams—who also acquitted two other Baltimore officers—found Lt. Brian Rice not guilty of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, and misconduct in office on Monday, reports the Baltimore Sun. An assault charge was thrown out mid-trial. NBC News reports prosecutors presented "essentially the same evidence as previous trials," though they stressed that as commander of the shift in April 2015, Rice was responsible for putting Gray in a seat belt inside the Baltimore police van where he suffered a fatal spinal cord injury. Rice ordered Gray's legs be shackled but ignored seat belt policies, prosecutors said.

One prosecutor compared the act of not putting Gray in a seat belt to "handing someone a loaded gun." Defense attorneys, however, said putting a seat belt on Gray, whom they described as aggressive, would've put Rice in danger given the tight space in the van compartment where suspects are held. "Everything about it was professional, correct," an attorney for Rice said. Williams found Rice's failure to use a seat belt wasn't itself a crime, reports the Guardian. The verdict follows the acquittal of two other officers in the case, Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr. Officer Garrett Miller's trial will begin on July 27. William Porter—who had a mistrial in December—will be retried on Sept. 6. Sgt. Alicia White will be the last to go before a judge on Oct. 13.
 

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