A judge in Baltimore on Monday acquitted a third policeman of any wrongdoing in the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man arrested in Baltimore last April. A judge s sitting without a jury found Lt. Brian Rice not guilty of all charges related to the arrest of Freddie Gray. Lt Rice is the fourth of six officers being tried in the death of Gray. Meanwhile, city officials in Baltimore continue to face backlash from the trials.
Gray died of a broken neck after his arrest and a 45-minute ride to a police station in the back of a van. His death ignited protests in Baltimore and around the country. Prosecutor argued that Lt Rice was criminally negligent when he did not seat belt Mr.Gray in the van as was the policy of the Baltimore police. The State argued that as the senior officer on the scene, he was ultimately responsible for the safety of the prisoner. The defense argued that the Gray’s combative conduct made it impossible to secure him in the van. Three other officers are scheduled for trials. One, Officer William Porter, will be tried a second time after an earlier trial ended in a hung jury.
At the same time, the Prosecutor’s office has faced increasing pressure to drop all further prosecutions of officers in the case. “It’s quite clear that the prosecution should not continue on,” said Barry Slotnick, an attorney who has been following the case. Further a law professor at George Washington University, John Banzhaf, is initiating action before the Maryland Attorney Grievance Commission to disbar the prosecutors involved in the prosecution.