July 5, 2016 07:35:00 am
Baltimore prosecutors appear prepared to forge ahead with the next trial of an officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray, after two acquittals delivered by the judge overseeing the case, the Baltimore Sun reports. The trial of Lt. Brian Rice is scheduled to begin today with preliminary motions, including defense requests to dismiss the charges. Rice has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. Rice, 42, is the highest-ranking of the six officers charged. The most serious charges against him stem from failing to secure Gray with a seat belt when he helped load the shackled 25-year-old into an arrest van.
Other charges relate to his role in Gray’s initial arrest. Rice was on bike patrol when Gray fled police, and Rice called out for other officers to pursue him. Rice is expected to opt for a bench trial, with Judge Barry Williams deciding his fate. In two previous cases, Williams cleared officers who faced similar or more serious accusations. Rice participated in loading Gray into the arrest van at its second stop, lifting Gray into the vehicle with the assistance of officer Edward Nero, who was acquitted. David Jaros, a University of Baltimore law professor who has been observing the cases, said prosecutors face steep odds but there are reasons they could justify pushing forward. For example, he said, the public has yet to hear the statement Rice gave investigators.