TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — A not guilty verdict handed down to a police officer accused of manslaughter. He was holding a Baltimore County teenager down on the ground when the young man suffocated.
Derek Valcourt has reaction to the jury’s decision.
Prosecutors said the officer’s actions that day amounted to manslaughter. It took a jury less than two hours to unanimously disagree.
“This is just hard, literally a hard day,” said Chris Brown, victim’s mother.
Christopher Brown’s mother saddened by the not guilty verdicts against Baltimore County police officer James Laboard, whose actions resulted in the death of her son.
The 17-year-old died last June after a group of teens threw a rock at the off-duty officer’s Randallstown home.
Laboard ran out and gave chase, but only caught Christopher Brown, hiding in some bushes. A struggle followed, with Laboard putting the teen in a neck hold and pinning him to the ground.
Brown stopped breathing.
“We believed we had reasonable evidence to show that he stepped out of the bounds of reasonable force,” said Baltimore County State’s Attorney, Scott Shellenberger.
But the Baltimore County state’s attorney could not convince a jury that Christopher Brown’s death was anything more than an accident.
Brown’s family will now seek justice in civil court.
“I just don’t understand how the evidence came to not guilty. I just have to accept that in my heart and look for where God wants to take our family now,” Chris Brown said.
“As far as I’m concerned it was a travesty. I think there was a lot more information that was not shed and presented to this jury and I’m going to make sure it happens in the civil,” said Russell Neverdon, Brown family attorney.
“Shellenberger and his prosecutor failed us. They failed us,” said Marvin “Doc” Cheatham.
Civil rights consultant Doc Cheatham–unhappy with the outcome of the case, which he says sends the wrong message.
“It’s a message that youth can do things that are wrong and the consequences may be your death,” he said.
Officer Laboard is not out of the woods just yet.
He will start getting a county paycheck again, but police will now do their own internal review of the case to determine if Laboard violated any of their policies and procedures. And, of course, he and the department are still facing a civil trial.
Officer Laboard and his attorneys did not make any comment following the verdict.