BALTIMORE (The Baltimore Sun/TNS) - The highest-ranking Baltimore Police officer charged in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray has elected to have a judge decide his fate rather than a jury.
During a pretrial motions hearing& Tuesday, Lt. Brian Rice, 42, opted to follow the same route as two fellow officers acquitted in recent months in electing for a bench trial.
His fate will rest in the hands of Circuit Judge Barry G. Williams. In two previous trials, Williams cleared officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson, who faced similar or more serious accusations.
Williams& on Tuesday& also denied a defense motion to dismiss the case altogether.
Opening statements are scheduled for& Thursday& morning.
Rice has pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter, second-degree assault, two counts of misconduct in office and reckless endangerment. He is free on $350,000 bail.
The most serious charges against him stem from failing to secure Gray with a seat belt when he helped load the shackled 25-year-old into an arrest van.
Other charges relate to his role in Gray’s initial arrest. Rice was on bike patrol at the Gilmor Homes complex when Gray fled police, and Rice called out for other officers to pursue him.
Three more Baltimore officers will go on trial following Rice’s proceedings.