BALTIMORE (UPI) — Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Rice, one of six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment on Monday.
Rice was the highest-ranking officer to respond to the incident that led to Gray’s death. Rice, 42, was the fourth officer to go on trial in the case.
Earlier in the trial, Judge Barry Williams dropped a second-degree assault charge and prosecutors dropped a second count of misconduct against Rice.
Officer William Porter’s trial ended in a mistrial in December and officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr. were acquitted in their respective trials in May and June.
During the prosecution’s opening arguments against Rice earlier this month, Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow said Rice was a “highly trained and promoted lieutenant” who was “in charge” the day Gray was arrested.
Gray, 25, sustained a fatal spinal injury on April 12, 2015, while being driven in a police van after his arrest. His death sparked weeks of peaceful protests, riots and looting in Baltimore, and ignited the Black Lives Matter movement nationwide. Prosecutors contend officers did not do enough to get Gray medical aid after he was injured while handcuffed but not buckled into a seat in the back of the van.
Schatzow said Rice knew the police department’s rules required him to secure Gray with a seat belt in the back of the police van to ensure his safety. A defense attorney countered that given that Gray was combative and attracting a crowd, Rice did what any officer would have done in deciding to not secure Gray with a seat belt but to instead place him face down, shackled and handcuffed, on the floor of the van.
Rice was hired by the Baltimore Police Department in 1997 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2011.
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