Crime & Justice

Most senior police officer in Freddie Gray case found not guilty of manslaughter

Lt. Brian Rice, second from left, was acquitted in the death of Freddie Gray Monday. Rice is seen here arriving at the courthouse for opening statements in his trial in Baltimore on July 7.
Lt. Brian Rice, second from left, was acquitted in the death of Freddie Gray Monday. Rice is seen here arriving at the courthouse for opening statements in his trial in Baltimore on July 7.
Patrick Semansky/AP

A Baltimore judge has found Lt. Brian Rice, one of six Baltimore police officers charged 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 of the officers charged after Freddie Gray died in police custody in April of 2015 have already been acquitted; another officer who was the first to go on trial saw a mistrial declared in December, after the jury couldn't reach a verdict.

Rice's case was heard by Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams, who also heard the other three cases. In addition to the manslaughter charge, William 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 seatbelt when he rode in the back of a police van. Gray died of injuries that he sustained while in police custody on April 19 — seven days after he was apprehended.

Rice could have faced up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the top count 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, telling 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."

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