Pre-trial motions are to begin Tuesday morning in the trial of Lt. Brian Rice, who’s charged with manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in last year’s death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.
Gray died a week after being taken into custody, suffering a spine injury in a police van while he was handcuffed and shackled but not restrained by a seat belt.
Rice, the highest-ranking officer charged in the case, was on bike patrol at the housing complex where Grey attempted to flee police.
“Rice is the officer who initiated the pursuit of Gray when he and two others were walking in west Baltimore on April 12, 2015. According to testimony in previous trials, Gray ran off after Rice made eye contact with him.
“Officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero responded to the call. A short time later, Miller arrested Gray and he, along with Rice and Nero, loaded Gray into the van.
“Officer Caesar Goodson drove off with Gray, but stopped the van a few blocks later. At that time, Rice, Nero and Miller took Gray out of the van, placed him in leg shackles and placed him face-down on the floor of the vehicle.”
The most serious charge against Rice stems from failing to secure Gray with a seat belt.
The proceeding against a third officer, William Porter, was declared a mistrial and he is scheduled to be retried.
Rice is expected to request a bench trial, and Circuit Judge Barry C. Williams would hear the case. He is the judge who acquitted Goodson and Nero.
David Jaros, a University of Baltimore law professor who has been observing the trials, talked about them to the Baltimore Sun:
“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.
” ‘Because we don’t know his statement, we don’t know if there’s different support for some of the key elements that we couldn’t find in the prior trials. We also have a slightly different set of circumstances,’ he said.
“But he was not optimistic about the state’s chances. ‘My guess is that their case is not significantly stronger, and my expectation is this case will play out like the others have,’ Jaros said.”
Rice’s legal team has asked that the reckless-endangerment count be dismissed. And separately, they’ve asked that the entire case be dismissed. They say questions have been raised about the prosecution’s investigation prior to charges being filed.
Since there have been no convictions in the first three trials, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby has much at stake.
She’s been criticized for rushing to charge the officers without a complete investigation.
Five of the six officers charged in the case — including Rice — have filed defamation suits against her.
Besides Porter, who is to be retried in September, two remaining officers face court dates.
Proceedings for Miller are scheduled to begin later this month, and Sgt. Alicia White has an October court date.