The Freddie Gray case has now seen another Baltimore officer acquitted on all charges.
Lt. Brian Rice, the highest ranking officer to be charged over the death of Freddie Gray, was facing involuntary manslaughter and other serious charges. The prosecution failed to convict Rice, according to the Baltimore Sun.
This is the fourth time an officer has been acquitted over the death of Freddie Gray. Freddie Gray was a 25-year-old Black man from Baltimore who died after experiencing a spinal cord injury in a police van last year. Rice’s case attempted to determine if not putting a seat belt on Gray constituted a crime, and the judge ruled it did not, according to the New York Times.
Riots took place in Baltimore after Freddie Gray’s death. Many argued the police had engaged in what is called “rough riding,” Rough riding involves officers putting a suspect in a van with no seatbelt and handcuffs on and driving the van erratically to injure the suspect. Numerous lawsuits against the Baltimore police have been won over rough riding, according to the Baltimore Sun.
There are two remaining cases against Baltimore police officers over the death of Freddie Gray, but it appears unlikely there will be any convictions. All of the trials have relied on the same evidence.
Some eyewitness accounts claimed officers used excessive force against Freddie Gray before putting him in the van, but it was found he died from injuries related to the van ride. Gray was allegedly originally arrested for possessing an illegal switchblade.
“This has been a very difficult time for our city, and I thank the community for their patience during this time and ask their continued respect for the judicial process as we move forward,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said after Rice’s verdict was announced. She said Rice will still face administrative review, despite the outcome of the trial.
“It is critical for this court not to base any decision on public opinion or emotion,” Judge Barry Williams explained on Monday.
“There are a number of possibilities the court could entertain, some that are innocent and some that are not. However, the burden of proof rests with the state, and the court’s imaginings do not serve as a substitute for evidence,” the judge said.
Judge Williams is the same judge who acquitted two other Baltimore police officers over the death of Freddie Gray.
Multiple medical experts were called upon during Rice’s trial, and Dr. Matthew Ammerman stated that Freddie Gray died shortly before the police van made its final stop. Evidence would appear to suggest that Freddie Gray was alive and speaking before the end of the ride, according to CNN.
The state had attempted to argue that Freddie Gray was already injured before the police arrested him and put him in the van, but that does not appear to be the case.
The decision not to convict Rice comes after two more recent public outcries over the deaths of Black men at the hands of police officers, and it also comes after several police officers have been murdered.
A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll says that 74 percent of Americans believe race relations are currently bad in the United States. Race issues are expected to be a major topic of discussion during the remainder of the 2016 presidential race, and events like the Republican National Convention are amping up security in case violence breaks out, according to the Intercept.
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