Prosecutors Drop Misconduct Charge Against Highest-Ranking Officer on Trial for the Death of Freddie Gray

Lt. Brian Rice, one of six Baltimore city police officers charged in connection to the death of Freddie Gray, leave the Maryland Court of Appeals on Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Annapolis, Md. Photo by JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AP PHOTO

Lt. Brian Rice leaving the Maryland Court of Appeals on Thursday, March 3, 2016, in Annapolis, Md. Photo by JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AP PHOTO

The trial for Lt. Brian Rice began Thursday, and state prosecutors have already dismissed one of the many charges brought against the disgraced officer.

According to CNN, prosecutors dropped the misconduct in office charge against Rice after ruling he was not directly involved in the arrest of 25-year-old Gray. The officer was originally charged with misconduct for failing to arrest Gray without probable cause.

Per the news site, Rice still faces involuntary manslaughter, second degree reckless assault, and reckless endangerment charges, in addition to a remaining misconduct in office charge for failing to secure the Baltimore man with a seat belt while in the back of the police van.

Gray was arrested last April and died after suffering a severe spinal cord injury while in police custody. Soon after, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced charges against six police officers involved in his death — Rice being one of them.

Rice is the fourth officer to stand trial; so far, none of the officers have been convicted. The case against Officer William Porter ended in a mistrial while Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson were acquitted.

During their opening statements, prosecutors held that Rice was liable for Gray’s death, as he was in a supervisory position.

“He was in charge,” Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow said. “Because of the decisions that Lt. Rice made, Freddie Gray is dead.”

“This defendant is not an inexperienced officer,” Schatzow also said of Rice. “He knew and ignored it.”

According to CNN, defense attorneys for Rice argued Gray’s death was a tragic accident and that the officer “used his reasonable judgment and discretion” to decide not to strap the Baltimore man in with a seat belt.

“Evidence will show that Mr. Gray’s death was a tragic, freak accident that no one could have foreseen,” said Defense Attorney Chaz R. Ball.

Earlier this week, the Baltimore cop opted for a bench trial, Atlanta Black Star reports. If convicted in Gray’s death, his fate would be decided by a judge instead of a jury.

Rice’s move for a trial-by-judge also comes one week after he and fellow officers requested that all criminal charges against them be dropped. According to NBC News, Sgt. Alicia White, Officer Garrett Miller and Lt. Rice filed motions last Monday to have their charges dismissed on the basis of wrongful prosecution.

Trials for Sgt. White and Officer Miller are scheduled for later this year.

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