Prosecutors dismiss misconduct charge on first day of Brian Rice trial
BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- For the first time in any of the officer trials stemming from the Freddie Gray death investigation, prosecutors have dismissed a charge against one of the defendants.
At the beginning of the trial for Baltimore City Police officer Brian Rice on Thursday morning, state prosecutors dismissed one of two misconduct in office charges against Rice without giving an explanation. As a result, Rice will now stand trial for manslaughter and four other charges.
In their opening statement, prosecutors told the judge that Lt. Rice, as a high-ranking officer, put Freddie Gray in danger when he failed to secure him with a seat belt in a police transport van.
However, defense attorneys maintain that Gray was belligerent and combative on the day of his arrest and said that Rice made a 90-second decision that was 100% reasonable.
"You have to ask, 'What is the duty of a police officer to protect a person?'" said Douglas Colbert, a professor of law at the University of Maryland.
Rice has elected to have his fate in the case decided by Baltimore Circuit Judge Barry Williams, rather than a jury. In the two completed cases so far, Judge Williams found Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson not guilty of all charges.
The trial for the first officer to take the stand, Officer William Porter, ended in a hung jury.