Second Charge Dropped in Baltimore Cop’s Trial

     BALTIMORE (CN)— A judge on Monday dropped an assault charge against Lt. Brian Rice, the fourth officer to be tried for the death of Freddie Gray, following a defense motion for dismissal of all charges.
     The move came after the prosecution put fellow officers Edward Nero and William Porter on the stand — two witnesses that may have aided the defense more than the state, according to an attorney close to the case.
     Attorney Warren Brown, who has been closely following the proceedings against the six officers charged with the arrest and death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died of a spinal cord injury while being transported in a police van.
     “Nero painted a picture of Gray’s aggressive behavior during the arrest,” Brown said. He went on to say the Porter’s testimony did not present any evidence against Rice, as the questioning centered on the fourth of six stops made by the van in which Gray was transported.
     Rice’s defense team moved to dismiss all charges for lack of evidence.
     Judge Barry Williams said Monday that he also considered dropping the manslaughter charge because Rice was not the driver of the van, but that consideration of the prosecution’s evidence had to be taken in a light most favorable to the state.
     Rice still faces charges of involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office. A second charge of misconduct in office related to Gray’s arrest was dropped by prosecutors the first day of the trial.
     The state claims Rice was negligent when he helped place Gray handcuffed and shackled on the floor of the van’s rear compartment without securing him with a seat belt.
     Gray’s death sparked rage in the majority black city of Baltimore and led to a day of violent protests.
     The case against the highest-ranking officer charged in relation to Gray’s death has drawn increasing scrutiny as State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s team has yet to garner a conviction in three previous cases.
     The first trial of Porter ended in a hung jury and mistrial in December. Officers Nero and Caesar Goodson were acquitted of all charges in bench trials heard by Williams in May and June, respectively.
     Nero’s testimony made for some intense moments in the court, as he was cast as a hostile witness and Porter testified under protest by his attorneys.
     Porter was compelled to testify against his superior officer by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals after he had been granted partial immunity by the prosecution for statements made on the stand.
     Chief Deputy State’s Attorney Michael Schatzow asked both Nero and Porter about defamation and wrongful prosecution lawsuits filed against Mosby.
     Following Williams’ decision to drop the assault charge, Rice’s defense team called their first two witnesses, Danta Allen and Zachary Novak.
     It was the first appearance in any of the trials thus far for Novak, a fellow officer present at Gray’s arrest. Novak helped the defense present the argument that the scene of Gray’s arrest was complicated by a crowd that had formed outside West Baltimore’s Gilmor Homes on the morning of the arrest.
     Allen rode in the same van as Gray the day the fatal injury occurred. He has been a fixture in all the cases thus far, and presented little in the way of new information as to what happened to Gray on the last leg of the ride the two took before Gray was found unresponsive upon arrival at the Western District Police Station.
     The defense is expected to call witnesses for two more days before resting their case. A decision is expected to be handed down early next week.

%d bloggers like this: