Former Memphis police officer found not guilty of rape

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - The former Memphis police officer accused of rape was found not guilty Thursday.

Bridges Randle went missing the day his fate was determined in court.

"I didn't have a client and I went forward as if he was there," defense attorney Leslie Ballin said.

Closing arguments and jury deliberations happened Thursday after two days of testimony in the case of Randle.

Randle was accused of raping a woman in 2000 at her apartment hours after he—as a police officer--responded to a domestic violence call.

Due to a backlog of rape kits, Randle was not indicted until 2014.

"The victim testified, the jury heard all the evidence in the case, and resolved the case in favor of the accused," Ballin said.

Trial resumed Thursday at 9 a.m., but Randle called his attorney to say he was stuck in traffic. As time went by, Randle never showed up, and no one was able to reach him on his phone.

At 11 a.m., the judge decided to declare Randle voluntarily absent and allow the trial to proceed without him.

Closing arguments went on without Randle in the courtroom. The jury decided the not guilty verdict with Randle absent from the courtroom.

"I'm not comfortable talking about what I know about his not being here," Ballin said.

Prosecutors said it is likely that a warrant for failure to appear will be issued for Randle's arrest. In this case, a charge of failure to appear is a felony.

"Can the state of Tennessee accuse my client of another crime of failure to appear? Absolutely, and I anticipate that will be done shortly," Ballin said. "If he is charged with another crime, I can tell you under our ethics it would be impossible for me to represent him on that new charge based on what I know and I'm not telling you."

There is no word yet on if or when Randle will be charged with failure to appear in court.

Prosecutors consoled the victim after the verdict.

"While we respect the jury's verdict and appreciate their service, we are deeply disappointed in the outcome," District Attorney General Amy Weirich said.

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