A Baltimore jury acquitted a man of attempted murder Tuesday, more than one year after the 29-year-old was shot nine times by Baltimore police in what officers called an exchange of gunfire.
Jurors found Davi Ralph guilty of assault and gun charges, but his acquittal on the charge of attempted murder — which carries a maximum life sentence — brought relief to his family in the courtroom.
"These are tears of joy," said George Ralph, wiping his cheeks. "I get to see my son again."
Defense attorney Scott Reid presented jurors with inconsistencies in police statements during the weeklong trial in Baltimore Circuit Court. More than one officer claimed to have handcuffed a wounded Ralph shortly before midnight in May 2016. Further, police didn't trace the gun and investigators recovered minimal DNA evidence from the weapon.
Ralph continues to recover after he was shot in his chest, back, arms and legs. His mother, Erica Brown, recalled a grim prognosis from doctors that night.
"They said his body was riddled with bullets," she said outside the courtroom.
Officers R.J. Waters and Michael Jones were both cleared in the shooting.
The events began with reports of gunfire in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood on May 31, 2016. Waters said he arrived to find other officers chasing a suspect up Aisquith Street. The officer recalled the next moments during the trial, saying he cut through an alley to head off the suspect just north of Clifton Park.
Waters said he emerged to see the suspect running up Homestead Street, toward him.
The suspect swiveled back, raised his arm and fired two shots at other officers chasing behind, Waters told jurors. He saw the muzzle flash in the darkness, he said. Waters drew his gun, took aim and opened fire.
"I had no choice," he told the jury.
Ralph faces as many as 60 years in prison on the assault and gun convictions. Judge Cynthia Jones scheduled his sentencing for Nov. 9.
Ralph showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
Outside, his grandmother was overcome. She clutched her Bible on the courthouse steps, calling out. "Hallelujah."
An earlier version misstated the age of Davi Ralph. The Sun regrets the error.