Amid the gloom of yesterday’s senseless murder of four police officers by a black nationalist in Baton Rouge comes word that the fourth officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray has been found not guilty.
From Fox News:
Lt. Brian Rice faced charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. He opted for a bench trial by Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams.
The judge previously dismissed a second-degree assault charge, and prosecutors dropped a second misconduct charge against the 42-year-old officer, who is white.
Gray died a week after suffering a spinal injury in a police van last year, touching off protests and rioting.
Rice’s failure to seatbelt Gray, Williams said, may have been an error in judgment and a violation of updated policy — but the judge found prosecutors failed to prove it rose to a criminal level.
The judge’s decision is another stain on the career of State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who — the judge found — “failed to show that the defendant, even if he was aware of the risk, consciously disregarded that risk.”
The three previous trials ended in two acquittals and a mistrial. Two of the previous defendants, officers Caesar Goodson and Edward Nero, were present in the courthouse when the decision was handed down. Both are now free men after having been found not guilty in bench trials.
Mosby, for her part, is facing a lawsuit brought by two of the officers, Alicia White and William Porter, who claim that Mosby knew the charges against them were trumped up but went ahead and filed them anyway to quell the riots that had ravaged Balitmore.