After three acquittals and a hung jury in the trials of Baltimore police officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, prosecutors face steep hurdles to winning convictions in the three remaining cases, the Baltimore Sun reports. Judge Barry Williams, who cleared Lt. Brian Rice of all charges yesterday, sent a strong message that the state’s attorney’s office lacks the evidence to prove the officers’ conduct was criminal, observers said. “The state is not simply 0 for 4,” said defense attorney Warren Brown, who is not involved in the cases. “They’re 0 for 24 when you add up all the charges that the judge or jury considered through the course of four trials.”
Rice, 42, was found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter, misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. Williams had dropped a charge of second-degree assault at the trial’s midpoint. “The judge has said over and over and over again [that the evidence] falls short of convincing him beyond a reasonable doubt” that the officers are criminally culpable, Brown said. That doesn’t necessarily mean prosecutors should drop the remaining cases, one expert said. University of Maryland law Prof. Douglas Colbert said the trials are sending a message to police. Prosecutors should keep going after adapting their strategy based on Williams’ latest ruling, he said.