Brian Rice, highest-ranking officer cleared in Freddie Gray's death, to get $127K in back pay

The Board of Estimates is set to authorize about $127,000 in back pay to Lt. Brian S. Rice.

Baltimore police Lt. Brian S. Rice, who was acquitted of manslaughter, misconduct and other charges in the death of Freddie Gray, is set to receive about $127,000 in back pay.

The city's Board of Estimates on Wednesday is scheduled to authorize a payment of $126,916 to Rice. Rice and three other officers charged with felonies in connection with Gray's death were suspended without pay, under department policy. Having been acquitted, Rice is now entitled to back pay under that policy.

Rice, 42, was the highest-ranking officer of the six police officers charged in Gray's arrest and death. Prosecutors had alleged that Rice and others caused Gray's death by failing to secure him in a seat belt in the back of the van, where Gray suffered severe spinal cord injuries last year.

Rice was suspended without pay from May 1, 2015, when he was charged by the state's attorney's office, until July 18 of this year, when Circuit Judge Barry Williams found Rice not guilty of all charges.

"Being suspended without pay for over a year has been financially devastating to Lt. Rice and his family," said Michael Belsky, Rice's attorney.

Williams said prosecutors failed to meet their burden of proving the charges against Rice beyond a reasonable doubt, instead asking the court to rely on "presumptions or assumptions" — something it cannot do. He said the court "cannot be swayed by sympathy, prejudice or public opinion."

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has said Rice now faces an administrative review.

Gray, 25, died April 19, 2015, one week after his arrest. His death sparked weeks of protests and activism against police brutality, and two nights of looting and rioting.

Last month, the spending panel authorized $87,705 in back pay for Officer Caesar Goodson Jr., the driver of the van in which Gray sustained his injuries. He, too, was cleared of all charges at trial. Williams also acquitted Officer Edward Nero, and prosecutors dropped all charges against the other three police officers.

Lbroadwater@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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