Second Freddie Gray officer cleared at police trial boards

Back in May it was decided in the City of Baltimore that the officers involved in the Freddie Gray incident were going to be facing disciplinary trial boards, despite having been cleared of wrongdoing in the courts. That process began playing out last month and the second officer to face the music was the supervisor in charge at the scene, Lt. Brian Rice. Much as with the result of efforts at previous trials in a court of law, Rice walked out with no finding against him and returned to his job. (Baltimore Sun)

When the verdict of “not guilty” came, Baltimore Police Lt. Brian Rice shook hands with his attorney, hugged his parents and drove a mile to police headquarters to get his job back.

The lieutenant was reinstated Friday, shortly after his acquittal on administrative charges that he had neglected police procedures during the arrest of Freddie Gray. The verdict absolves Rice once and for all.

“He simply wants to go home, hug his kids, kiss his wife, have a good holiday and really, honestly, try to get on with his life,” said his attorney, Michael Davey.

The ruling by a three-member panel of police officers comes more than two years after Gray was severely injured in the back of a police van. Rice supervised Gray’s arrest and was cleared last year of criminal charges including manslaughter.

As you may recall, not all of the officers involved in Freddie Gray’s arrest are facing these boards. Two of them, Edward Nero and Garrett Miller, opted to accept minor administrative disciplinary measures and skip this process entirely. Rice was really the big fish in the larger scheme of things and if anyone was going to be found guilty of violating protocols it would have been him. He was not only in charge at the scene, but was the person identified as having failed to properly secure Gray in the back of the van.

The original claim that Gray was given a so-called “rough ride” was rejected in court, but the fact that he wasn’t properly strapped in might have been a contributing factor in the cause of his injuries. (Other witnesses insist that Gray was intentionally smashing his head against the partition in the van during the ride.) The fact that they didn’t come up with anything on Rice is rather telling.

This decision came on the heels of the first hearing against Ceasar Goodson, the driver of the van. He was previously found not guilty at one of these proceedings, leading some Baltimore residents to proclaim their dismay and disappointment.

“I’m disappointed. It makes you feel like there’s no justice,” said Kenneth Judkin.

At Penn and North, outrage over officer Caesar Goodson Jr. walking away without any punishment for his role in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.

“I’m not saying send them all to jail, but there should be punishment. It sends a terrible message to the community,” Rev. Daki Navata said.

We could quibble over the reaction of Baltimore’s residents in terms of what their expectations were when the courts determined that no crime took place, but let’s face it… expressing “disappointment” is far better than setting the city on fire again. The last officer to face the boards will be Sgt. Alicia White. Her attorney seemed to sum up the expectations nicely when he said, “The evidence was the same in Officer Goodson’s case. It’s the same in Lieutenant Rice’s case. It’s going to be the same in Sergeant White’s case.”

That’s not stopping the City Hall solicitor they put in charge of pushing these cases through. Andre Davis is insisting that the “process” is important to show people they’re taking the case seriously. He also insisted it was important to keep going even if it, “may appear to be unwarranted or ill-advised.”

Really? Your city currently has a murder rate which has some of the residents considering a move to the scenic suburbs of Kabul just for the peace, quiet and reduced chance of being killed. Meanwhile, you’re still going after the cops. Something isn’t adding up here, sir.