iStock/Thinkstock(BALTIMORE) — A Baltimore Circuit Court judge is expected to announce the verdict in the case of Lt. Brian Rice, the highest ranking officer involved in the Freddie Gray case, at 10 a.m. Monday.
Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was alive when he was loaded into the back of a police van in handcuffs and leg shackles in April 2015. He was not wearing a seat belt.
Roughly one hour later, Gray was found unresponsive and suffering from a severe spinal injury. The medical examiner ruled that he received the injury while being transported in the police van and ruled his death a homicide.
Gray succumbed to his injuries several days later, his death sparking days of violent protests, riots and looting. Six Baltimore police officers in total were charged for their role in the arrest and death of Gray.
Rice, 42, is charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless endangerment and misconduct in office for his role in Gray’s arrest and death last year.
Judge Barry Williams is deciding his fate because Rice opted for a bench trial, rather than a jury trial.
Rice is the fourth officer to stand trial. Williams previously acquitted Officers Edward Nero and Caesar Goodson Jr. of all charges. The case against Officer William Porter ended in a mistrial in December. He is scheduled to be retried in September. Officer Garrett Miller will go before a judge on July 27, and Sgt. Alicia White’s proceeding begins Oct. 13.
Prosecutors charged that Rice showed reckless disregard for Gray when he failed to secure him with a seat belt after he helped load Gray into the police van.
To gain a conviction on the charge of involuntary manslaughter, prosecutors have to prove that Rice acted in a grossly negligent manner and was aware of the risks to Gray but disregarded them.
For reckless endangerment, prosecutors must prove that Rice was aware of the risks and acted unreasonably.
For misconduct, they must prove the lieutenant corruptly failed to carry out an act required of him. Prosecutors have argued Rice was the highest ranking officer at the time of Gray’s arrest. They also homed in on Rice’s training, saying that Rice should have known the consequences of failing to secure a shackled prisoner with a seat beat, and that he intentionally disregarded the consequences.
Williams has already dropped an assault charge against Rice, citing lack of evidence, and also dismissed one count of misconduct on the first day of the trial.
The verdict comes at a time of increasing frustrations throughout the country over recent police shootings that left Alton Sterling and Philando Castile dead.
On Sunday, three police officers were killed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The shooter was killed but the motive is still unknown. This follows the shooting of five Dallas police officers last week.
In Baltimore, sixty-five people taking part in a march against police brutality were arrested over the weekend after they blocked part of Interstate 83, police said.
Of the 65 arrested, 10 were juveniles.
Those arrested were charged with failure to obey and illegally walking on a highway.
While blocking Interstate 83, protesters chanted “hands up, don’t shoot.” One participant carried a “Black Lives Matter” sign, while another wore a shirt that read “I am Freddie Gray.”
March organizers said they were rallying to create a civilian review board for police investigations. They also want to reallocate 10 percent of the city’s police budget for community programs.
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