NAACP Legal Defense Fund Statement on the Acquittal of Lt. Brian Rice for His Role in the In-Custody Death of Freddie Gray

For Immediate Release

NAACP Legal Defense Fund Statement on the Acquittal of Lt. Brian Rice for His Role in the In-Custody Death of Freddie Gray

NEW YORK, NY - Today, Circuit Court Judge Barry Williams acquitted Baltimore police lieutenant Brian Rice of all charges for his role in the in-custody death of Freddie Gray. Prosecutors charged Lieutenant Rice with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment, assault, and misconduct in office. Judge Williams dismissed the assault charge during the trial.

“Once again, Judge Williams has decided that the prosecution has not proven its case against an officer involved in the in-custody death of Freddie Gray,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). “We look forward to learning more about the judge’s reasoning and share the disappointment felt by Mr. Gray’s family members and loved ones,” Ifill continued. “After four trials there is still no accountability for the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. We remain resolute to work toward changing policing practices in Baltimore.” 

In May 2015, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that the Justice Department would investigate the Baltimore Police Department’s (BPD) use-of-force, stops, searches, and arrests policies and practices to determine if there are systemic violations of constitutional and federal laws. LDF has repeatedly asked the DOJ to expand its investigation to the Baltimore School Police Force after two videotaped beatings of middle and high school students surfaced in the past several years. DOJ has indicated that it would conduct a limited probe into the joint policing activities between the two police forces. 

Additionally, as the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) engages in contract negotiations with the local Fraternal Order of Police, LDF has joined a coalition of organizations calling for the addition of civilians to the police department’s disciplinary hearing boards, which will be permitted by a new state law – the Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights.

“As the Baltimore community awaits the results of the federal civil rights ‘pattern or practice’ investigation of the BPD, LDF will continue to advance reforms that will address systemic problems that have contributed to police violence against youth and adults of color in Baltimore,” commented Monique Dixon, LDF Deputy Director of Policy and lead attorney for LDF’s Policing Reform Campaign. Through its Policing Reform Campaign, LDF partners with national and local advocates to support demands for unbiased and responsible policing practices, including:

  • Annual collection, disaggregation, and public reporting of arrests; use-of-force; and pedestrian and traffic stop data;
  • Training on implicit bias, de-escalation, use of force, adolescent development, and proper interactions with persons with mental illness and other disabilities;
  • Enforcement of these trainings through close monitoring of police conduct and the imposition of disciplinary actions or retraining; and
  • Timely investigation and resolution of civilian complaints against police.
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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.

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