Christopher Brown, James Laboard

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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

target Laboard.

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

aggressive suspect.

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.