Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Rice has been acquitted of all charges relating to the in-custody death of Freddie Gray in April 2015, WBAL-TV reports.
Rice, the highest-ranking Baltimore police officer to face charges in the case, and the fourth of six officers involved to go to trial, was facing charges of manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Prosecutors had decided to drop a second misconduct-in-office charge relating to Gray's arrest, and Judge Barry Williams also dismissed an assault charge, the news station notes.
In the end, on Monday, Williams acquitted Rice of all charges.
Williams said that prosecutors failed to prove that Rice's actions were criminal and that while Rice showed bad judgment in not securing Gray in the police van with a seat belt, it is not a crime. There was no evidence presented, he said, that Rice knew of the policy that required arrestees to be secured. The judge said that he could not make "assumptions of presumptions" in making his decision, WBAL-TV notes.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake released a statement shortly after the verdict urging for patience as Rice moves forward to face an administrative review.
"Now that the criminal case has come to an end, Lt. Rice will face an administrative review by the Police Department," the statement read. "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."
Gray died April 19, 2015, about a week after suffering a neck injury in the back of the van. As the news station notes, Rice is the officer who initiated the pursuit of Gray. He and two other officers confronted Gray after Gray started running when Rice made eye contact with him, the report notes.
Officers Caesar Goodson Jr. and Edward Nero, who also decided to have bench trials instead of jury trials, were previously acquitted by Williams. Goodson, who was driving the van at the time of Gray's injury, was acquitted of all charges last month, including his most serious charge of second-degree depraved-heart murder. Nero was acquitted in May. The jury trial of Officer William Porter ended in December with a hung jury.
Read more at WBAL-TV.