Judge to Hear Case Against Highest-Ranking Officer Charged in Freddie Gray Death | NBC Southern California
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Judge to Hear Case Against Highest-Ranking Officer Charged in Freddie Gray Death

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    Baltimore Police Department via Getty Images
    In this handout photo provided by the Baltimore Police Department, Lt. Brian Rice poses for a mug shot on May 1, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland. Porter was one of six officers arrested in connection with the April 2015 death of Freddie Gray while in police custody.

    There will be no trial by jury for the highest-ranking Baltimore police officer charged in the death of a young black man whose neck was broken inside a police van.

    Lt. Brian Rice has chosen to be tried instead by a judge, the same one who acquitted two fellow officers in Freddie Gray's death.

    Rice faces charges of manslaughter, assault, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. Earlier Tuesday, the judge also denied a motion by Rice's attorneys to dismiss the case against him. 

    Gray's neck was broken after officers left him handcuffed and shackled but unrestrained by a seat belt inside a metal transport compartment in Goodson's van.

    Rice's trial comes on the heels of two recent acquittals in the cases against Officer Caesar Goodson, who faced a second-degree murder charge, and Officer Edward Nero, who faced misdemeanor charges stemming from Gray's arrest. Both chose judge trials.

    The trial for a third officer, William Porter, ended in a mistrial in December. He's scheduled for retrial in September. The other two officers charged, Sgt. Alicia White and Officer Garrett Miller, filed motions to dismiss their cases last month.

    The acquittals dealt a significant blow to the prosecution and to Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who has staked much of her reputation on these cases.

    Since charging the officers last May, Mosby has been criticized for her decisions.

    Tuesday, there was a demonstration at the courthouse to stop the attacks on Mosby, which protesters called racially motivated.

    "We are happy that the state's attorney had the courage and the fortitude and the political will to move forward, even in spite of threats against her life, even in spite of racist bigoted attacks from state lawmakers, even with efforts to get her disbarred," said Elder Courtly C.D. Witherspoon of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

    Five of the six officers, including Rice, have filed defamation suits against Mosby, and a law professor filed a formal complaint with Maryland's Attorney Grievance Commission. In the complaint, George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf alleges that Mosby pursued charges against the officers without probable cause, which is a violation of her professional oath.

    Gray died in April 2015, a week after he suffered a critical spinal injury in a police wagon while he was handcuffed and shackled but left unrestrained by a seat belt.

    News4's Chris Gordon contributed to this report.