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Baltimore Co. Police Officer Not Guilty In Teen’s Death; May Face Civil Trial

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James Laboard
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Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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RANDALLSTOWN, Md. (WJZ) — A day has passed since a Baltimore County police officer was acquitted on manslaughter charges in the death of a 17-year-old Randallstown boy.

The victim’s attorney says he is now planning to file a civil suit.

Rochelle Ritchie has more.

Officer James Laboard is now on paid administrative leave. The family of Christopher Brown remains in disbelief. Their attorney is preparing for another legal battle.

For the last year, attorney Russell Neverdon has fought for justice in the case of 17-year-old Christopher Brown.

“This case turns on what happened in that bush. Those are the facts I think the jury just could not grasp and focus on beyond the presence of a police officer. They were fixated on that,” Neverdon said.

In less than three hours Thursday afternoon, jurors in the manslaughter case against Officer James Laboard acquitted the nine year veteran on all charges of involuntary and voluntary manslaughter.

“This case came down to an issue of fact, and that is, ‘what is reasonable force?’” said Scott Shellenberger, Baltimore County State’s Attorney.

But Neverdon’s not giving up. He plans to go after Laboard again in a civil suit.

“What it will include would clearly be wrongful death. It will also include excessive use of force and it will deal with the loss the family has incurred,” he said.

Last summer, investigators say Brown and a few of his buddies were hanging out in Laboard’s neighborhood when a rock was thrown at the officer’s home.

Police say the teens ran. Brown was chased down by Laboard and held in a choke hold. The medical examiner testified during the trial the teen died of asphyxiation.

While Laboard claimed Brown was throwing punches, no physical evidence was found on the teen’s hands to suggest he was fighting.

“Christopher was my heart, and I just don’t see this being something I can stop doing now. I want to make sure this doesn’t happen to another child,” said Chris Brown, victim’s mother.

Neverdon says getting citizens in Baltimore County to convict a cop is nearly impossible and is hoping to take the civil trial out of that jurisdiction.

“A federal environment may be the best venue for this matter,” Neverdon said.

Laboard will remain suspended until the Baltimore County Police Department completes its review.

Laboard is currently assigned to administrative duties.

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