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Christopher Brown's mother continues to seek murder charges in teen's death

Almost two months after Christopher Brown died outside a Randallstown home, the family of the slain teen continues to ask that the state's attorney's office seek murder charges against the Baltimore County police officer accused in his death.

Tuesday night at a meeting organized by the family, Brown's mother, Chris, said that she wants the Baltimore County State's Attorney's office to pursue a second-degree murder charge against Officer James D. Laboard, who is awaiting a trial date on voluntary and involuntary manslaughter charges.

"It can happen to your kid," she told a large crowd of people at the Empowerment Temple AME Church on Primrose Avenue in Northwest Baltimore. "What do you say to parents who try to do right?"

The meeting was held the same day as National Night Out, when police departments across the country hold community events to engage residents in the communities they serve.

Brown said that if Laboard had gotten to know her 17-year-old son and the other teens in the neighborhood, maybe there would have been no confrontation between the officer and her son.

Brown and other community leaders have been vocal since her son's funeral, demanding Laboard face murder charges and alleging that he has received preferential treatment because he is a county police officer.

Two weeks after Brown, a Randallstown High School junior, died of asphyxiation, Laboard was indicted.

The Woodlawn Precinct officer surrendered to authorities and was released on his own recognizance the same day.

State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger and members of the Baltimore County Police Department have repeatedly said the fact that Laboard was a county police officer has had no impact on the charges against him or on his treatment.

But Brown's attorney, Russell Neverdon, said Christopher Brown's death occurred through no fault of his own, that he merely happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when Laboard aggressively chased him and killed him.

"This is why we are here. This can never, ever happen again," Neverdon said.

In addition to continuing to pursue harsher charges, Neverdon said Chris Brown is working with Del. Jill P. Carter, a Baltimore Democrat, to craft legislation that would prohibit police departments from training officers to execute restraint techniques that render subjects unconscious. He said additional legislation would be drafted to require police departments to arrest and process officers accused in a crime in the same manner as other suspects.

Neverdon argued that Laboard was unfairly given days to speak with his attorney before giving his statement to police.

During the meeting, Marvin "Doc" Cheatham, president of the local chapter of the National Action Network, urged residents to take action, saying Christopher Brown's case might be treated differently if the teen were white.

The Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, the senior pastor at the Empowerment Temple AME Church, told the crowd, "We're doing this so there's not another Chris."

A conference is scheduled for next Tuesday to set a trial date for Laboard. Chris Brown and her attorney are scheduled to meet with representatives from the state's attorney's office the same day.

The family is also planning to hold a second protest outside the state's attorney's office Monday, exactly two months after Christopher Brown's death.

Police said Laboard chased a group of teens after a rock was thrown at his front door. He caught up to Brown at a nearby home and the two struggled until Brown fell unconscious. Police said Laboard, who was off duty at the time, tried to resuscitate Brown.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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