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18 Jul, 2016 14:33

Highest-ranking Baltimore police in Freddie Gray case not guilty on all charges

Highest-ranking Baltimore police in Freddie Gray case not guilty on all charges

A Maryland judge has ruled that Lieutenant Brian Rice is not guilty of all three charges he faced in the case of Freddie Gray. Rice was the highest-ranking Baltimore police officer was charged over Gray's in-custody death.

Rice, 42, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment that led to the death of Gray from a broken neck in a police van in April 2015. The charges carry a sentence of at least 15 years in prison.

He was acquitted on all charges.

Gray's death provoked protests in the predominantly black city, making it one of the most well-known cases of alleged police mistreatment of minorities. 

Rice chose a bench trial over a jury trial, as did two other officers before him. They were cleared of all charges. The trial of the officer who chose to be tried by a jury resulted in mistrial.

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams delivered the verdict on Monday morning. Williams had previously acquitted Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr., other officers who were involved in Gray's detainment.

Rice, who is white, ordered two bicycle officers to chase Gray fleeing in a high-crime area. He helped put Gray, shackled and handcuffed, into the police wagon face down on its floor. This led to his neck being damaged.

Prosecutors say Rice was negligent when he didn't secure Gray with a seat belt, as required by department protocol.

However, defense lawyers says Rice made a correct decision, since Gray was being combative and a hostile crowd was looking on.

Rice will now face an administrative review by the Baltimore Police Department, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said in a statement after the verdict was revealed.