point to questions about whether he was qualified to serve and whether the Baltimore Police Department enforced reasonable standards for who it allowed to patrol the streets of West Baltimore with a gun.
The Guardian first broke the story weeks ago of allegations and a protective order issued against Lt. Brian Rice, and followed up with a story yesterday that includes photocopies of the 10-page handwritten complaint in which the husband of Rice's former girlfriend details an armed Rice stalking and threatening him. In one reported episode, police from two departments responded to a 90-minute armed standoff that ended with Rice being allowed to leave. In another, Rice's threat to kill himself and fears that he would harm others resulted in his being taken by police to a hospital for a mental health evaluation. Rice's problems reportedly resulted in his being placed on administrative leave, disciplined, and twice having his police and personal weapons confiscated.
A person's struggling with mental health issues, in and of itself, is never a reason to stigmatize or punish them. But violent personal behavior, stalking, and armed threats are more than enough reason to suspend or revoke a person's authority to patrol the streets as a law enforcement officer. And the looming question underneath becomes: Just how stringent, or how lax, has the Baltimore Police Department been in its standards for who is fit to scrutinize, arrest, and occasionally shoot residents of mostly-black neighborhoods in West Baltimore? Is a cop with a clear record of violent mental disturbance somehow judged good enough to police a black community -- or any community?
This is not only an explosive policy question, but a colossal lawsuit waiting to roar into motion -- with Billy Murphy, arguably the most-feared attorney in Baltimore, already signed on as counsel for the family of Freddie Gray.
Read the most recent Guardian story.