Dean Ronald Weich and Professor David Jaros weighed in Monday morning with commentary as Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams handed down three verdicts of not guilty in the trial of Baltimore police Lt. Brian Rice.
Weich and LaMarr Darnell Shields, CEO of The Cambio Group, an education-based consulting organization, were interviewed by Tom Hall on WYPR’s Diane Rehm Show. Jaros was interviewed outside Courthouse East by WBAL-TV and The Baltimore Sun. He also spoke with The New York Times, among other news outlets.
Rice, the highest-ranked of the six officers charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray in April 2015, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Rice’s was the fourth case to go to trial. One earlier case ended in a hung jury and a mistrial; the other two were bench trials before Judge Williams, who acquitted both officers on all charges.
Asked by Hall what justice for Gray would look like, Weich said: “In my view, justice demands a process. It demands individualized consideration of the facts and the law that applies to each of these police officers, just as Freddie Gray and others deserve to be treated as individuals.”
Shields said that while the local community needed to understand the legal process, the legal community should also understand citizens’ frustration with the outcome of the cases so far.
“The folks in the city, it’s almost like we’re looking for a win,” he said. “There is this feeling of, Who’s going to fight for us? Even if we take it to the legal system, it still seems we’re not going to win.”
Responded Weich: “Let’s ask ourselves … where’s the win? Is there anything we can point to, some hopeful signs here?”
He enumerated a few: The $6.4 million civil award to Gray’s family, a new city police commissioner, the passage of Maryland’s Justice Reinvestment Act, a forthcoming new mayor and new City Council members and, finally, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s investigation of the Baltimore Police Department.
“These are steps that I think are signs of accountability even in the absence of criminal convictions,” Weich said.
Jaros, who observed the trial, said the not-guilty verdicts were no surprise.
“I think we were expecting this,” he said in the WBAL-TV interview. “There was not a great deal of different evidence than what we’ve seen in the past.”
Jaros told The Sun that prosecutors are “going to have to step back and reassess their evidence” against the officers still awaiting trial.
Officer Garrett Miller’s trial is set to begin July 27. Officer William Porter, whose first trial ended in a hung jury, is to be retried beginning Sept. 6. Officer Alicia White’s trial is to start Oct. 13.