Freddie Gray Case: Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Rice Cleared of All Administrative Charges

BALTIMORE (The Baltimore Sun/TNS) -
Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Rice was found not guilty Friday of all administrative charges related to the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.
(Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun/TNS)

Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Rice was found not guilty Friday of all administrative charges related to the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

A three-member panel of law enforcement officers announced its ruling at the University of Baltimore following a trial that began Monday.

Rice, 44, was the highest-ranking officer involved in Gray’s 2015 arrest. He had faced about 10 administrative charges, which alleged he failed to ensure Gray’s safety and failed to perform certain supervisory duties.

Rice placed Gray in the back of a police van handcuffed and shackled but not secured with a seat belt. After the van ride, Gray was found unconscious with broken vertebrae in his neck. He fell into a coma and died one week later.

A 20-year veteran of the force, Rice has maintained his innocence. He was previously acquitted of all criminal charges, including manslaughter, last year.

Rice’s administrative trial began one week after the van driver, Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., was acquitted of 21 administrative charges.

The trial board was tasked with deciding whether Rice acted with reason or neglect. Did Rice fail to read an email with a new policy requiring the seat-belting of detainees? Did he neglect to listen closely to his police radio? Did he fail to treat the van as a crime scene after Gray was hurt?

All were questions presented to the trial board during Rice’s trial.

“It’s up to you to ensure the responsibilities of this officer were met,” said Neil Duke, the attorney prosecuting the case for the city.

Mike Davey, Rice’s attorney, described his client as an “extremely dedicated” officer who acted reasonably at every stage of Gray’s arrest. He said it was the police department that failed to adequately train and equip officers in the transporting of detainees.

Baltimore police officers who were called as witnesses testified that Rice’s actions were reasonable and based on concerns for officer safety.

The trial board was chaired by Prince George’s County Police Maj. Melvin Powell and included Baltimore Police Capt. Charles Thompson and Baltimore Police Lt. Bryant Moore.

In 2015, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby filed criminal charges against the six officers who were involved in Gray’s arrest and transport. None were convicted.

Police detectives from Howard and Montgomery counties then reviewed the officers’ actions as they related to the policies of the Baltimore Police Department. Administrative charges were filed against five of the officers: Rice, Goodson, Nero, Officer Garrett Miller and Sgt. Alicia White.

Nero and Miller chose not to fight the charges and accepted minor discipline. Both are back to work with the Baltimore police. Goodson was cleared of all administrative charges. White’s administrative trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 5.