It has been awhile since Freddie Gray’s death back in April of 2015, but it’s becoming increasingly evident, as we all knew, that there was no malicious intent in his death.
Andrew McCarthy, a formal federal prosecutor, and writer for the National Review noted:
“Gray, a 25-year-old African-American man with a record of drug charges and minor crimes, was under the influence of drugs. He was wildly uncooperative with police who attempted to restrain him. He would have survived had he remained in the prone position in which the police placed him. The medical examiner conceded that there was no intent on the part of the police to harm him. He was thrust into the hard interior of the van because of his own actions, which included banging on the walls and attempting to stand up despite being in restraints – i.e., abandoning the position in which the police had placed him. Police repeatedly checked on him during the ride, and got him medical attention once it was clear to them that he might have sustained a serious injury.”
Perceptively, Judge Barry Williams found Lieutenant Brian Rice not guilty on the charges of “involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.” Judge Williams’ verdict on Rice was that there was no evidence of criminal misconduct by not fastening Gray’s seatbelt, because given Gray’s violent uncooperative attitude, the officers needed to leave the van promptly.
Williams distinguished that forgetting police procedure is not the same as committing a crime and also acknowledged that failure to secure Gray in a seatbelt did violate policy, but also said that the change in policy was, “only days before the incident.”
In his ruling, Williams said,
“It is clear that law enforcement and citizens alike were yelling and upset. It is clear that information did not flow efficiently between law enforcement and citizens. While there are different views as to what happened, and a clear disagreement on the number of people at any given time, none of the individuals who testified indicated that it was a quiet time at Mount and Baker while Mr. Gray was being placed into the wagon.”
In involuntary manslaughter cases, the prosecutor has to prove gross negligence, or in other words, that Rice was aware of Gray’s risk by failing to fasten his seatbelt, and chose to ignore it. The prosecutor was unable to prove this.
In his ruling, Williams also noted, “the failure to seat-belt may have been a mistake or it may have been bad judgment, but without showing more than has been presented to the court concerning the failure to seat-belt and the surrounding circumstances, the state has failed to meet its burden to show that the actions of the defendant rose above mere civil negligence.”
Lt. Rice is the fourth officer who has been acquitted in this case and apparently the prosecution is “facing calls to drop the remaining cases.”
What do you think? Should the prosecution drop the rest of the cases?