Reporting Alex DeMetrick
RANDALLSTOWN, Md. (WJZ)—The killing sparked outrage and protests. Now, one year after the death of 17-year-old Christopher Brown, a Baltimore County police officer goes on trial.
Alex DeMetrick reports the charge is manslaughter.
After a rock hit his door, off-duty police officer James Laboard chased down one of the teens outside his Randallstown home. Seventeen-year-old Christopher Brown died of asphyxiation while Laboard restrained him.
Monday, jury selection began in the manslaughter trial of Laboard, a veteran Baltimore County police officer.
“We’re not looking for a life for a life, and I’ll say that over and over again. We pray for Laboard’s family; we pray for him. But when you’ve done something wrong, people need to own responsibility,” said Christopher Brown’s mother, Chris Brown.
But responsibility was something the victim’s family felt Laboard was escaping when his arrest took days and the charge was manslaughter, not the second-degree murder charge protestors were calling for. There was also anger Laboard was freed without having to post bail. Brown’s mother and others saw it as unfair, preferential treatment.
“I’ve assured her a complete, fair and thorough investigation, which has been conducted,” said Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson.
“The fact that Laboard was an off-duty police officer had no bearing on the time it took to evaluate the evidence and to move the case forward,” said Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
Christopher Brown died June 13 last year. He did not throw the rock that eventually led to his death.
In court, 100 prospective jurors were called, 12 of whom will judge Laboard.
This trial is not expected to be a long one. Both defense and prosecution anticipate a verdict for Laboard could happen by this Friday.
If convicted on the manslaughter charges, Laboard could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.