BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore police lieutenant Brian Rice will learn his fate Monday. Attorneys wrapped up closing arguments with some fireworks in the courtroom, WJZ’s Mike Hellgren reports.
Rice is the highest-ranking officer facing charges in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray.
The defense said Lt. Rice acted as any officer would in his dealings with Freddie Gray, and he was forced to make a split-second decision under dangerous conditions. Prosecutors painted Rice as uncaring, even calling him a “jerk.”
Monday will be judgment day for Lt. Brian Rice. In their closing arguments, prosecutors stressed his rank, and said if he had any compassion, Freddie Gray would still be alive today.
Prosecutor Jan Bledsoe said: “He had the power and control to punish and humiliate Freddie Gray. To justify his actions, he blames the victims, he blames the community.”
“The simple failure to restrain somebody, a prisoner, with that seat belt in and of itself is not a criminal act,” said Warren Alperstein, lawyer and courtroom observer.
But the defense says Gray was combative and Lt. Rice faced a volatile crowd and that it was too dangerous to secure Gray with a seat belt.
Rice attorney, Michael Belsky, said his client acted professionally and reasonably. He said: “the theory of this prosecutions sets a very dangerous precedent.”
Judge Barry Williams has expressed doubts over whether or not using a seat belt is a crime.
“A critical question in the case is what did he know, what was his own mental state at the time he failed to secure Mr. Gray?” said David Jaros, University of Baltimore School of Law.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby watched the closing statements from the front row. She’s faced criticism for moving forward with the prosecutions after failing three times to get a conviction.
“She has no choice but to continue prosecuting and hope that at some point there will be justice for the victim of this crime,” said Doug Colbert, University of Maryland law professor.
“The state unless they have something more than they’ve shown so far — and we know that they don’t — then they’re going to continue to suffer the same result, which is losing,” said Warren Brown, lawyer and courtroom observer.
Judge Williams will read his verdict at 10 a.m. Monday.
Prosecutors say Lt. Rice’s motive was because he was upset at Freddie Gray yelling and screaming when he was originally arrested. Three charges remain against Lt. Rice — manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office.