James D. Laboard: Baltimore Cop Found Not Guilty Of Choking Teen To Death [VIDEO]
Baltimore County police officer James D. Laboard, 33 (pictured right),
was found not guilty of choking unarmed teen, Christopher Brown,
17 (pictured left), to death on June 12 while allegedly trying to
arrest him, reports the Baltimore Sun.
Brown was with a group of boys who allegedly threw a rock
at the door to Laboard’s home. The officer gave chase, and
without cuffs or a gun, felt that putting the teen in a chokehold
was the only way to restrain him.
It killed him instead.
“There is no evidence that Laboard intended to kill,”
attorney Ezra S. Gollogly, said in court. “What the state is
doing in this case is 20/20 hindsight.”
Brown’s mother and sister wept in the courtroom,
while Laboard was “visibly relieved.”
Read more from the Baltimore Sun:
State’s Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger
said the state agreed with Brown’s family that
Laboard had used excessive force, but the jury
had the ultimate decision.
“This was an incredibly tragic case,” Shellenberger
said. “Obviously we in the state’s attorney’s office
felt a crime had been committed.”
Brown’s attorney, Russell A. Neverdon, said
he has notified the Baltimore County Police
Department that he intends a civil suit over
the incident, an action he said would also
Neverdon said he felt the state did
not emphasize to jurors that Laboard gave
chase and then confronted the teen. He
said Brown ran from Laboard and then hid
in some bushes, and thus was not an
In closing arguments, Deputy State’s Attorney
Robin Coffin told jurors that Laboard had been
enraged when he went after Brown, and
had used a neck restraint that was inappropriate
for police action. Baltimore County does not train officers
in neck restraints, a police academy instructor testified.
“These are not the actions of a well-trained police
officer,” Coffin said, noting that he had nine years of
police training in which he would have been faced
with similar, high-stress situations. “He has a right
to be angry but not to kill.”
Though Laboard claimed to responding officers that
Brown attempted to hit him, the medical examiner’s
officer does not agree. According to them, scratches
on Brown’s arms were consistent with the teen struggling
to pull Laboard’s arms from around his throat.
Brown’s death by asphyxiation was officially ruled
a homocide. Laboard, who was charged with manslaughter,
was facing up to 10 years in prison.
Read more at the Sun.